Vote for America's future. Vote Green.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Internet and the coarsening of people's attitudes towards other people

In my family, a piece of wisdom that has been shared from generation to generation is that you can tell what type of person they are by the way they treat animals. Regardless of the faith, in my case none, this is something I can trace back at least four generations and probably goes much farther. Recent days have forced me to reflect on this. This is what I've decided.

One of the few areas where animals are superior to people is their inability to be duplicitous, petty, or outright cruel. Just as one should never be cruel to an animal, one should also never be cruel to another human. On the internet, it's often very easy to fall into a trap where you forget that, no matter how misguided, wrong, annoying, crude, vulgar, vain, or just weird, words seem on the computer monitor; there is actually a real, breathing human being staring at another monitor at words they've written. Those words may have been written in jest, in rage, in fear, in malice, or even in an attempt to ease some crushing loneliness. I have fallen into that trap before, and upon reflection, I dishonored myself by behaving as I have in some instances. The internet, and especially the blogsphere, should be a marketplace for the free exchange of ideas. Attacking bad ideas is good, and is necessary for the intellectual growth of not only the person making the remarks, but the person to whom the remarks have been made. There's even some merit to exposing the idiocy of others, as they may be unaware that they are so completely wrong. However, it's equally important to steer clear of the line that separates confronting ideas and within reason the people who have them. Attacking innocent bystanders and/or preying on their weaknesses for petty amusement is something that should never be done.

One of my links to the left is a site called Petty Rage. Me? I've done that in the past, and gotten most of it out of my system. Now, I'm more interested in trying to find some order in the beautiful, wonderful and sometimes scary chaos that is life.

No comments: