In an age were we have amazing technology that can spread our thoughts and opinions across the world virally, civility as been lost. Out there in the wilds of the internet, there is an erroneous conclusion that a person can remain anonymous and be spiteful, cruel and crude in their dealings with other people.
In the ‘real world’ there are consequences when you verbally and/or physically assault someone. When you blackmail, bully or commit a hate-crime, and are caught, you are punished. For some reason, people feel that they can be anonymous in the cyberworld.
Here is a simple truth. There is no anonymity in the cyberworld. When you sign those End-User Agreements, you are saying that you will not use whatever platform you are using in a malicious manner. That covers the company’s legal options, not the individual user. The company can then turn over any relevant data as required over to the judicial services.
A prime example of this crudeness is the Rutger’s student who committed suicide this week. Many people are talking about this being a hate-crime, and it may well be one. But it is symptomatic of a greater problem. An invasion of privacy and a lack of respect in general, by fellow students, led to the degradation of a young man’s self esteem. Twitter, Facebook, webcams, all benign by their very nature, were used to poke and prod into someone’s private life without thought of consequence. The perpetrators certainly didn’t think about what it would feel like if they were the victims, they just acted.
That is the real problem here. All these thoughts and actions with out a moral inhibitor saying ‘Stop, Think – Is this REALLY what you want to do?’ Creating a chaotic soup of despair.
Now we have 1 young man dead, and 2 lives ruined by their poor, uninhibited choices. These two individuals had a choice about their actions. They had an understanding of right and wrong. The man who was uncomfortable with his roommate could have asked for a new room assignment. Instead, he set about using technology to harass and bully.
I am not opposed to free thought and opinion. I’m not opposed to using technology in my everyday life, after all I AM a blogger and a self-acknowledged geek. Anything I say and do in the cyber world, I will and do say in public. There is no difference in my cyber and real personas. I have strong opinions that can and will be voiced.
I will never engage in anonymous slander, vilification or libel of another person(s). I live my the Golden Rule, “Do unto others, as you would have done unto you.”
If that simple rule was to be truly lived, then I believe that our world would be a much less violent place to live in.