Welcome Update #26


Cory Baker, Website Designer

Animosity Breeds Courage

 This is something I observed the very first time I got into a chat room, back in 1996. 

I purchased my first computer back in 1996. At the time, I didn’t know much about computers or the internet. Due to not knowing much, I went with the most advertised provider of internet services, AOL. On one particular browsing session, I decided to try out a chat room to see what it was all about. I found a group with the topic of pencil puzzles, and jumped in. 

The dynamic was interesting. Here were strangers, living anywhere on the planet, discussing a common hobby. I observed the discussion thread for a few moments, added a few related comments and was enjoying the interaction with total strangers. Out of nowhere came a comment that one of the contributors to the discussion was a “dumb-ass”. Ok, guess I didn’t have the text filtering on, but not a big deal. Seemed out of place, but whatever. Then it started to get heated.

 Rebuttals from the “dumb-ass” kicked up the slanderous remarks quite a bit, and additional people started to join into the heated rhetoric. Racial slurs and comments regarding individual’s sexual orientations as well as each other’s mother’s vocation where thrown back and forth in immediate, hateful remarks. 

I was shocked by this group of individuals, who most likely had never met, being so hateful towards one another. All because someone didn’t enjoy a certain puzzle magazine’s particular offerings. I left the room. I tried another. Same thing. Hatred and anger thrown back and forth as if this was how people actually interacted with a perfect stranger. It disturbed me greatly. 

And it’s still there. And it’s worse. People seem to be removing filters that were there before, and being angrier and angrier all the time. Has the ability to have instant communication with strangers, something that should have brought us closer to our fellow man, actually caused us to step backwards in our social interactions? Has the a new found courage many have found in being anonymous, actually brought us further away from our neighbor instead of building relationships across continents? I think it has. 

People are just mean when they think there aren’t any repercussions for their actions, and that they are “invisible”. 

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