Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Use It For Good

On many blogs and message boards, I've heard people say that the Internet "isn't the real world" and thus, we shouldn't take each other seriouly when we're debating or bashing or praising each other because it doesn't matter. This isn't the real world.

I take issue with that.

Yes, it's a lot easier to debate or argue or demean or praise someone when we can't "see" them. But that doesn't mean there's a robot on the other end. It's a live human being, a person with thoughts and emotions just like you.

I've seen a lot of nastiness on the Internet, nastiness that would never occur in real life. I'm pretty sure that the majority of people would not demean someone in a face-to-face conversation or call them all sorts of petty names because they didn't agree with their opinion. Yet the relative anonymity of the Internet has allowed us to sink into the bog of viciousness. Suddenly, everyone has an opinion on everything and everyone wants to share that opinion - and not always in a healthy manner. Story comments on news sites get downright vile. MySpace messages are the same. Even published authors and writers are getting into the fray. It's so easy to hit "reply", type in your message, and click "send." And wallah! You're part of the conversation.

Bottom line - it's so darn easy to ridicule and slam a person on the 'Net because we can't see their face.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for a healthy debate. Everyone having different opinions and trying to get the other person to see the merit of their ideas is not wrong, but essential in our society. But there is a right way to debate and a wrong way. The 'Net has allowed us to wallow in the wrong way. And make no mistake about it - just because it's in cyberspace does not mean it's not the real world. The vitriol still affects the person sitting on the other end. It still hurts. And how much more real can you get?

True, I do love the 'Net. I think it's terrific that the Internet has allowed us to connect with each other on a global scale. I've made some terrific friends via the 'Net that I wouldn't trade for anything. I can stay in touch with my family via email, instantly share pictures, book a vacation, find out what my favorite author is writing, check my bank balance, find the meaning of a word, search for my next house, get the latest Snoopy item on ebay, and the list goes on and on. I'd say for me, the Internet has been a much more positive experience than negative. And I'd like to keep it that way.

I think I could write a book about this topic.

Bottom line - the Internet is a tool. And it can be used for good or for bad. Use it for good.


  1. It's all positive for me too. I choose to use it for good!

  2. You should write the book -- using the Net for Good! It would be a best-seller.

    Seriously, far too many cowards use the internet to bully because they wouldn't dare speak that way to anyone's face.

    If you wouldn't say it TO the person, don't say it on the net.

  3. Brian - bravo!!!

    Devon - You're absolutely right. That's a great mantra to have - if you wouldn't say it TO the person, don't say it on the net.

  4. Really cool blog. I found it through lisa's.

    You make a good point. Was FDR any less real or important because his voice came through those gargantuan vacuum tube radios? It was a splendid use of technology to rally and comfort a nation.

  5. Hi Billy - thanks for stopping by! Agreed - I don't think anyone had the whole "it's not real" issue with radio when it came out, either. I think we need to look at the Internet in the same way.

  6. I think it's interesting that the blogosphere has literally thousands of little communities, each with its own distinct personality. Take these writing blogs, for instance. Each blogger has a list of favorite blogs where she visits and comments and there is reciprocity. I'm sure we've all ventured out to sites where the mood or the attitude is slightly different and we don't feel we quite belong. I am knocking on wood, but I have been surprised and absolutely delighted to find that in the little circle of blogs where I regularly roam, people are kind and supportive and I have never seen any negative behavior. I've lurked through many other blogs where I would never consider commenting because the atmosphere is much harsher and I wouldn't subject myself to attack or harsh criticism. I've learned to seek out nice peeps and they're here :)

  7. Lisa, you're so right. I love all the blogs I go to - it's such a nice community. And I, too, steer away from the harsh ones, though sometimes I'm guilty of lurking just to read the comments, another habit I need to break.

    Where I find the most nastiness is on YouTube comments and comments on news stories, like on ABC News.com Wow. You'd think we'd regressed to cavemen mentality.

  8. Yeah - some of the stuff that is out there is just plain scary.

    I do remember taking issue a couple of years ago with a newspaper columnist in Ottawa who made very disparaging remarks about bloggers. I wrote and told her that there's more to blogging than just twittering on about nothing (as she seemed to indicate - it was for losers with nothing better to do than ponitificate on the net) and pointed out that for writers, it's another form of both networking and more importantly, support!

  9. I have seen things that put me off the whole blogsphere. I completely agree with you, Mel. Use it for good. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Voice it nicely, as if the person was sitting next to you having coffee. I think this is one of the reasons I haven't blogged much recently. It has been putting me off :(

  10. Tess, good for you - I'm glad you spoke up and said something. I love blogging and the community of support we've built as writers.

    Toni, so sorry you're seeing the 'bad' side of the 'Net right now. I miss your posts!

  11. Not personally, just in others... :)


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