The internet provides a wealth of information. We can learn how to use a new piece of equipment via a YouTube video, buy our groceries and have them delivered to our door… even learn a new language. We mostly look at pictures of cats with funny captions or see if we can spot our house on Google Maps. Okay, so it’s not that bad, but still, daily I see the world wide web being used for airing dirty laundry, picking fights with strangers (trolling) and playing games whose graphics would be best suited to my old Amiga 1200. What a waste.
The games I don’t really have a problem with (dear lord, please stop inviting me though) but something about the other stuff makes me decidedly uncomfortable. I can log on to Facebook and tell if someone has split up with their partner by their posts, I can watch the gossip-mongers swarm in on the pretext of caring and I can watch the general car-crash that is someone having a ‘virtual’ breakdown. It seems that in times of trouble (relationship or otherwise) people turn to the internet. I get it, it’s probably a sense of not being alone, of camaraderie and a little of ‘I’ll show the world I’m okay!’ But you’re obviously not, and that’s okay but a few ‘likes’, RTs or comments won’t make it better. Neither will they cure cancer, stop bullying or help you lose weight. I think it’s wonderful the way sites such as Facebook give us a chance to connect to people we may have otherwise lost touch with, but would we go out into the street and shout about our private business? Would we put it on leaflets and distribute it through doors? Of course not, but aren’t these ‘virtual meltdowns’ the same thing? There is no dignity in any of this but it’s so commonplace now that we just seem to accept it as the norm, and that’s a shame.
The net gives us all a voice and I respect and believe that everyone has a right to an opinion, but it doesn’t mean I want to hear it and it doesn’t mean you should always voice it (rather ironic coming from a blog, heh). We wouldn’t go up to a stranger on the street and start an argument with them but it’s perfectly acceptable to start on someone in a forum or on Facebook or Twitter. How odd the way our social conventions change from face to face to virtual. Is the person being trolled ‘less’ of a person than they would be if you met them in real life? No, but for some, the apparent safety of a room, a screen and a keyboard turns them into something unpleasant. Internet bullying in particular has become such a huge issue, with children (and adults I’m sure) even going so far as killing themselves over it… absolutely horrific. Thank goodness the police and justice system in this country are beginning to take the matter more seriously, but I fear they have a very long way to go before we get to where we should be.
Thankfully, these people are the minority and if you don’t like someone, a group of people, a post, a picture, a blog… then there is one simple rule to follow… click ‘shut down’.