We live in an odd time.

The internet has made the world far smaller. It has enriched our lives with a sea of information on any and every subject we could possibly wish to study. From mathematics to Mozart, theories on the beginning of time to recipes for the perfect New York cheesecake, if you want to know something, you can find it.

It has given everyone a voice. If you have an opinion, you can make it heard.

The level of debate should have risen. With the bounty of information at our fingertips, the quality of argument, of reasoned and intelligent discussion, should have improved exponentially.

And yet it hasn’t. It has plummeted. Debate and reason has been replaced by vitriol and anger. Frustration and belligerence surmised in 140 blindly tapped characters.

News stories that an individual dislikes are instantly passed over as “fake news.” Stories that don’t fit the narratives which individuals have created for themselves are dismissed out of hand. Experienced and knowledgeable journalists, researchers, writers and broadcasters are lambasted and insulted by those who dare not step out from behind the veil of anonymity which the world wide web provides.

An opinion is no longer debated and discussed. It is used as a beating stick. It is chewed up and spat out as being false, fake, biased. Yet an opinion is just that. It is an opinion. It doesn’t have to be agreed with. It isn’t an absolute. It is an opinion. Personal. Subjective. Neither right nor wrong.

This age, this time of unlimited information should have created an open forum of discussion. It should be the height of intellectualism in our world. And yet all it has created is a cesspool of contempt, bitterness and hatred.

I have worked in my chosen field for the past decade and a half. I immerse myself in the inner workings of the Formula 1 paddock at every race. I will soon attend my 200th Grand Prix as a journalist and broadcaster. I have commentated on over 350 races in my career to date. I write my blog, my column and flood my twitter feed with information and the occasional opinion in order to try and open up the world I love to its fans around the world. Fans of all nationalities, fans of all teams and drivers. I do not favour one over another. I have no favourites. I try, with every semblance of my being, to write, report and act in a professional and unbiased manner.

You may disagree with me. You may dislike the things I say.

But it is you who follow me. You who clicked that button and decided you wanted to hear what I was reporting and, on the occasions that I proffer an opinion, that you were willing to listen to that opinion and respect it as having come from someone who works at the very heart of the thing that you love.

I like debate. I love discussing this sport.

But I won’t stand for abuse. I won’t be insulted.

It saddens me that I’ve had to block anyone on social media channels. And yet over the past six months I’ve had to do so more regularly than ever before. In the last month alone I’d wager I’ve been forced to block as many people as I had done over the previous three years. That, unfortunately, is the reality of the depths in which reasoned debate now finds itself drowning.

The need to do so comes not from wanting to disengage from debate, nor from wishing to deafen myself to opinions contrary to mine. But from an absolute need to halt abusive, aggressive, unreasonable behaviour which has no place in any forum or in any walk of life.

I’m not the only one. Every one of my colleagues have been forced to do the same. And it’s not something that fills any of us with any satisfaction. We report on this sport because we love it. We want to share our passion with you. We want to share our stories, our experiences and our knowledge with you.

But should you find yourself boiling with rage, reading something I or one of my colleagues has written, ask yourself a few questions. Why would we lie? Why would we risk our careers by favouring one driver or team over another? Why would we allow bias to creep in to our work? Why would our employers allow it? Why would they continue to employ us?

If more than one of us is following the same path, ask why that might be so. Ask yourself why all of these people, with all of this experience and all of these contacts and all of this access, are saying similar things.

Then ask yourself if we’ve got it wrong, or if it simply doesn’t fit with what you’d hoped. And if it doesn’t, then ask why it doesn’t. What doesn’t fit?

Engage. Question. Discuss. Debate.

And if you still don’t like what we write and find yourself in the vocal minority that can find no other path than to stoop to the level of verbal abuse, it’s really very simple. Click that button that says “unfollow.” If you really want to live in a world where the only news you read and the only opinions you see are those that back up the stilted and one-sided views you’ve invented for yourself, and can find no means of debate other than abusing those who hold a different opinion or proffer facts that betray the narrative you’ve created as your own, go right ahead. But that’s not the world I live in, nor want to promote.

There is space and there is a right for all opinions and all viewpoints to be heard and debated. That’s what a world wide web should be about. It should be a melting pot of opinions and discussion. We all have the information at our disposal to make logical, reasonable, informed debate the norm, not the exception.

As a kid, the thing I loved about going to races was that you could stand trackside next to people of different nationalities, supporting different teams and different drivers and everyone got along. It wasn’t them and us like at a football stadium. It wasn’t tribal and warlike. It was respectful, it was engaging and intellectual and fun! This sport is one that brings people together. It doesn’t divide or hate.

So please, if you feel that passion start to burn as anger, take a step back. Passion is great. It’s why we all do what we do. Fervently loving your team, your driver, your country, whatever it might be… that’s what makes this sport so brilliant and so beautiful. It is all about the passions that drive us and get us excited. But please, temper that passion in the field of argument.

Anger, hatred and vitriol has no place here.

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