It is also a place where I can keep in touch with old friends and family; they, too, are strung out all over the world. Instead of Christmas cards, yearly family letters or the occasional correspondences through what is now call snail mail, I can experience their milestones and those of their children and grandchildren as they happen. I find great joy in sharing the lives and successes of others.
Unfortunately, as my pastor is fond of saying, given enough time and opportunity, people can mess up anything. And so it is with the Internet. Increasingly, I have noticed that there are those who appear unconcerned if they insult, verbally abuse or disparage others with what they write or reference. Domestic squabbles, political fights, sports team disagreements are all disseminated via the cyber pathways. The social networks, personal websites and news site comment sections have become a landmine of provocative and inflammatory speech which has not improved civil discourse but perhaps irreparably damaged it along with personal relationships, potential job opportunities and professional careers. The level of the tone is amplified in cases where anonymity is also a component.
It is just a personal opinion and based more on observation then any data, but I believe that venting one’s frustrations and articulating pessimistic feelings do more harm to the person making the posts than it helps them. Love breeds love and hate breeds hate, therefore expressions of negativity can only produce more and deeper negativity. I see no evidence that our society has become a happier place the more personal time people spend on the Internet.
Although I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, I have nonetheless determined that it is time for a change. And since I can change no one but myself, I have resolved to make a greater effort in being kinder to others this year, especially on the Internet.