The Internet is Mean

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sorry, no food AGAIN this week (I know, I'm awful).

I just wanted to talk a little bit about something that I've been thinking about lately. The internet is mean.

Ever since the days of Livejournal (ugh I just aged myself), everyone has had to deal with bullies and people who just in general, want to give you shit.  If you have never had someone on the internet tell you that you're ugly, or stupid, or mildly harass (or maybe not mildly...) you, then count your self lucky my friend.

The internet is changing how people interact, and how they communicate.  We are able to present ourselves in anyway we choose on the internet, and being accessible via social media profiles, etc. is making other people think they know you when in fact, they have never met you and don't know anything about you other than what you look like (or what you want people to think you look like) and what your favorite music/movies/books are.  I have had many people judge me based on what someone else on the internet says, or what I may have posted 10 years ago on Myspace.  I am not my internet profile, and I'm going to assume that you aren't either.

People will also say things online that they would never say in real life, and mostly to just get a reaction and get some kind of attention for it.  It's a high.  You poke someone and tell them that they're probably a horrible person and call them a name, and they respond.  Wow, I can say something to someone and illicit a reaction and not have to reap any kind of consequence? That's awesome! Except wait, there's a real person on the other end of this.  But the ultimate goal of this kind of interaction isn't to know someone on a real, personal level.  It's simply reactionary.  The only reason for any of this is to hurt someone's feelings, and being as that you don't have to deal with the aftermath makes it so seductive.

People can construct any kind of reality they want on the internet.  They surround themselves electronically with people who are likeminded and will side with them no matter what.  You can skew any reality to fit your own narrative.  Want people to think someone is a bad person? Just make a post about them.  It doesn't even have to be true! And in minutes you'll have your "friends" joining in the fun!  I have had people gang up on me via the internet, and I haven't even met a single one of them face to face.  I've had people say really awful things and throw idle threats, simply because a friend of theirs who I don't even know said so.  Would this happen in real life? Absolutely not. So what makes it ok on the internet?

The internet is changing the way that we relate to each other in real life.  People are more quick to be rude in public.  It seems like manners have gone out the window and I'm certain that our interactions on the internet have something to do with it.  Some people no longer know how to effectively communicate in the world, face to face, and don't know how to live outside their carefully constructed reality.

There is now also this sense of entitlement.  I know you on the internet, therefore I'm entitled to know about your life.  I'm also entitled to have an opinion about you, and if I express that opinion in a negative way, it is your fault, because you are available on the internet.  We have all seen thinking like this before, and some may have fallen victim to this thinking before.

Basically...be nice. If you feel someone has done something awful to you, I'm sorry. But perhaps there has simply been a misunderstanding, and maybe any feelings of ill will or intent to ruin someone's day or week or longer won't do anyone any good.  Remember, anger only begets anger and lashing out in this way won't make you feel any better. It will only make you feel worse and contribute to a terrible cycle of retaliation.

Remember your manners, and that if you don't have anything nice to say you shouldn't say anything at all.

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