The internet is a valuable tool. It has enhanced the lives of many people around the world by enabling communication, disseminating information at the speed of light, and allowing everyday people to both bank and shop without leaving the comfort of their homes. It has also been said that the internet is the future of the entertainment industry. High bandwidth connections now enable people to download full length movies in a matter of minutes and full episodes of your favorite tv shows are now available online. Websites like monster, craigslist and EBay even help you to find a job, sell that couch you just can’t stand anymore, or even find somebody to trade or barter items or services with.
The internet is also full of places where people gather to come together to share their common interests and help others. Websites like MySpace and Facebook allow people to show the world who they are and help reunite long lost friends. There are also thousands of forums devoted to everything from scrapbooking to motorized bicycles.
The majority of the people that frequent the internet forums and such are usually civil and courteous, practicing the golden rule of treating people the way they would want to be treated. But there are some that when given the opportunity and cover of anonymity, are much more sinister and evil.
Or how about this example: A girl meets somebody she believes to be a cute boy on myspace, but it turns out to be a cruel hoax perpetrated by a former neighborhood friend and her mother. The girl ends up committing suicide devastated by the ugly things that the perpetrators had left in their bulletins.
What would cause a rational person to commit such heinous acts such as those cited above? Is it that they can get away with it because it’s the internet, or is it something else? Would they commit such acts in the middle of a crowded mall? Maybe the people that commit such acts are just allowing their true selves to come forward on the internet, as they would surely not act as such in proper society. I want to believe that people are basically good, but stuff like this really puts a damper on that belief.
It is things like this that make me somewhat of an internet recluse. I am somewhat of an oxymoron really. I love the internet, but value my privacy as well. You won’t find me on myspace or facebook, and I very rarely post on any internet forums. I only write these articles for Broowaha because I have to have an outlet and have found that the members of the Broowaha community are both respectful and intelligent.
I could site many more examples of some of the awful things that people have done to other people via the internet. And those are just the ones that made national or local headlines. This type of stuff happens everyday and nobody takes notice. It may just be a harsh or vile comment left on a discussion board, or maybe it was a civil discussion that turned into an all out flame war.
I will end this piece with a request. Please just remember while you are browsing and interacting with people via the internet that they are just that, people. Try not to be rude or insensitive and try to ignore it when people are rude to you. Because remember, it’s easy to be an asshole when nobody knows who you are.