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.
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