Okay, so I know that the title “The Internet Sucks!” is rather harsh, but lately that is how I feel. There was once a time where the internet was used as an actual tool and not a weapon. I recognize that to a great degree it still a tool because we can share thoughts, ideas, and solid information and we are all the wiser for it. No longer do we have to go to the library to look things up or wait a year for something to be published. Now, everything is at our fingertips within seconds and from an educational perspective, this is an awesome thing! Even from the perspective of being able to share meaningful thoughts and ideas in a collaborative environment makes the internet awesome, especially when it is used for good and positive. Of course it has also helped us reconnect and stay connected with friends and family who live across the globe…and for me I am thankful to have such opportunity. Yes, there are countless reasons why the internet is still good – but that’s not what I am talking about – otherwise this would be a short posting about puppies, baby goats, and kittens. What I am referring to is the other side of that coin…
As I scroll through all of the social media pages that are out there, reading the different postings regarding…well, just about anything someone happens to write about, I find myself being ever thankful that I grew up in a time when the internet wasn’t so poplar. It seems that the information highways has become the “misinformation highway” and so many have become quick to believe and consequently “like” and “share” just about anything that is posted…no matter how ridiculous it would seem to anyone who actually stopped and thought about what they were reading for a minute. Mainstream media wants so badly to draw attention that they will highlight situations that really shouldn’t be highlighted, and then often skew them, because it does nothing more than “stir the pot” and generate ratings. I have often said those that “stir the post” should have to lick the spoon. Top that off with the keyboard warriors of today who seem to thrive on being malicious turds and you come to realize that the internet has really become a hostile environment and people are legitimately suffering from it in many different forms. Someone can’t even post a picture of a puppy without someone saying “that is the ugliest puppy I have ever seen” and go on to get into it with someone else over that comment. who gives a crap if you think the puppy is ugly? Why does your opinion on that matter? Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the freedom of speech (and as a lawyer in my line of work I help advocate for it), however, just because something is legal doesn’t mean that you should push the boundaries just to say you could do it! Freedom of speech shouldn’t be used as a license to be a dick! At what point did people bypass the Golden Rule? Further, and on point, not everything that you say (or write) is protected speech…but so many people forget that or have apparently never been taught that lesson in school. In my best Mr. Mackey voice from South Park “Bullying is bad…mmmmkay. Harassing someone is bad…mmmmkay. Lying and making up stories is bad…mmmmkay.“ Sure there are exceptions – satire and the like…and that seems all pretty self explanatory to me…but perhaps what I consider common sense isn’t so common?
While the shift has been going on for some time it has only been in the last five years that I have really noticed the change. Perhaps because I now deal with on a daily basis whether it be for work or I have it thrown in my face every time I read any thread, on any post, on pretty much any topic. True, I could not read…but the inquisitive social scientist mind I have won’t allow me to simply just dismiss it. As I see it, there seems to be a drastic increase of people who literally take offense to everything. At the same time there is an equally drastic increase of people who think being a keyboard warrior troll is somehow productive and funny; and somewhere in the gap between the two extremes are those who can find a bit of humor in some good old fashioned ribbing but know when things have gone too far and won’t engage in those activities. You know they types that I am I am talking about. They are the ones who literally post the “I’m just here for the comments” meme to a thread to show some level of participation without taking a side… Why is that? How has all of this come to be? Why does everyone want websites that allow third-party content to be the “moral police”? Even if sites were to start being the “moral police” where does one draw the line in the sand? Shouldn’t society, as a whole, have a duty to raise awareness and police their own conduct? Is it a fruitless endeavor to try and get people to police their own conduct or do people generally desire to behave in a positive manner but are just lacking in some basic knowledge and tools for real dispute resolution in today’s technological world? I mean, let’s face it…it’s not like many of us growing up had parents in this particular environment to draw upon for examples of how to handle these kinds of situations; heck, the game Oregon Trail was considered cool technology I was young let alone the internet.
Through this series of blogs under my self titled topic “Fighting Fair on the Internet” I will discuss my personal viewpoints on these questions in a balanced approach in hopes to help raise awareness on these issues; offer discussion points and/or, at least, some food for thought on the related issues; and provide some general legal commentary and tips for what I call “fighting fair on the internet” along the way. Of course, while I have some level of education in the social sciences, I certainly do not claim to be an expert…but I am fascinated by human nature and it seems to be such a very relevant and current issue in which I have had some level of experience with. Stick around friends…I anticipate this is going to be an interesting ride!