Like any tool, the Internet can be used to create and to destroy, depending on the person behind the keyboard. While, on the surface, most people seem content to post photos of their daily lives and share useful links, some have turned it into a place where they can say anything to anyone without consequence.
Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with people all over the world, allowing people who have never met to connect and share everything from their lunch to political viewpoints. According to statistics from Pew Research Centre, 74% of all adult Internet users use social networking sites and 58% of all adults use Facebook. This ability to connect is being abused on a daily basis by Internet users who wish to harm, or at the very least, get the last laugh.
It has gotten to the point where comment sections below articles posted by national newspapers are unable to be viewed because the comments are so extreme that no one on either side of the argument is making any sense. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop with comment sections.
People feel free to comment on anything posted on the Internet and some will not hold back what they think, even if it’s best kept to themselves. The things written by people on the internet are quite befuddling; it’s as if disagreeing with a person’s point of view makes it appropriate to dismiss that person as a living, breathing, thinking human being. The safety of the keyboard allows people to type anything they want, however vile and rude, with no repercussions for anything they have said, besides maybe a verbal lashing, which they can easily ignore.
Having and expressing opinions is perfectly fine, both on the Internet and in person, but, when people are seen to be belittling others and calling for the destruction of those they don’t agree with through forms of social media, it becomes highly concerning.
Why, in a time where we as a society have the ability to communicate with each other so effectively and efficiently, do we reduce our conversations to mud slinging contests with no winners? If people would just take the time to consider the viewpoints of others, show some empathy, and do a bit of research, the Internet could be the greatest tool mankind has ever known.
What once started off as a tool to enhance communication and make it easier, has now heightened to such extreme lengths where it is being abused and has become destructive.
I hope one day that more people will make the effort to have constructive conversations about their opinions, instead of being so quick to condemn anyone who’s point of view doesn’t line up with theirs.
Until that day comes, we are stuck in an Internet where real conversation is often put to the side to make room for keyboard warriors and their need be the loudest voice in the room.