Monday, February 28, 2011

Do we use the internet as an excuse?

Ever hear someone say "what happens on the internet stays on the internet"?
Think it's a load of bullshit?  I do and I'm really bothered that people think that what happens on the internet doesn't have any affect on the rest of our lives. Anyone who has been cyber bullied rally hates this mentality.   If you cheated on your spouse while in Vegas do you really think that will stay in Vegas?

Bullying a child isn't ok.  Does it become ok because it's online?  Does that make it any less hurtful to people?    What about people who do it from work?
I'll admit, I've check LiveJournal and other online sites from work.  But then again I never "trolled" or harassed people online because I was bored at work.  What's more so is that I never said anything in a public forum admitting I was doing this at work.
What about the girl who posted something about her teacher on her public FaceBook and was expelled?  Do you say that it doesn't count because it's online and shouldn't be taken seriously?

Think of it this way, if someone is working and in their down time leans out their window to insult the passers by is it ok?  Would work find that an acceptable use of company time?  Would a good excuse for why they don't have to stop be "I don't care because my boss does it too?"
What happened to accountability?  If I walked into the building and lodged a complaint with HR would I be seen as being vindictive?  Would you accuse me of trying to ruin their life just because they insulted me?
 Probably not...then why should online be different?  Is it ok to say it online because you think you are anonymous (you really aren't) and can be spineless about things?

If someone was bullying your child and you reported it to the school and the bully was pulled aside and got detention (or whatever it is they do these days) would you blame the child (or the parents of the child) who was being bullied for speaking up?  No, you expect people to be responsible for their actions when they do something they know is wrong.

Why do we allow the internet to be an excuse for doing things we wouldn't do in any other setting?   And why isn't it ok to report people for doing the wrong thing?
If you have bad service at a restaurant do you complain or fill out a negative comment card?  If you do complain is that ruining someone's life?
Back to our window analogy; if the person got in trouble for yelling out the window would you blame the person who reported her, or the person who was yelling out the window?

Actions have repercussions whether online or off.  People need to learn to be accountable in both situations. And instead of assuming someone else will take care of it why not say something yourself?  If you saw a crime going on would you report it?  Because sadly there are so many people who would just assume someone else would do it.    

Don't be afraid to rock the boat to do the right thing.  To teach your children the right thing.  And to hold people accountable for their actions online and off because the internet is not an excuse for you to be an asshole.  If you wouldn't have the guts to do it or say it offline then don't use the internet to be a jerk.

We often refer to thinks as "online" and "real life"  when in truth online isn't really a fake life and shouldn't be treated as one.  People end up with a false sense of anonymity and use that to be pretty nasty to others.  You wouldn't walk around and act that way to people in public but online offers you the safety of your home to be a complete jackass to other people.
If you have the need to be a jackass keep in mind there will be people who report your behavior and hold you accountable for the things you say.  What you write out there in cyberspace is more tangible then you think and a whole lot harder to deny.

Cyber Laws for your state


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vaunswanama said...

I very much agree with you. I also find that even in "real life", people don't like to own their words or actions. Sure I screwed up in the past, but I've also admitted it and moved past it. I've needed to do this to let go and learn from mistakes. It's amazing how many people just make excuses or deny their bad behavior, rather than just owning it and moving past it.

The internet will always be some sort of excuse I think, especially in LJ. On LJ, you can only be represented by what you say either within your journal, within communities or within friends journals via comments. But people can't seem to understand that there is an actual person behind the computer screen and being nasty online is just the same as being nasty in person. It's kind of interesting to see how our methods of communication change, but it's scary because of the absolute amount of misinterpretation on the other side, too.

TL;DR: I very much agree.