Decency In The Internet Age



By Andrew Bell-Ramos

I don't know about you, but I have very distinct memories of my family members telling me from a young age that, “If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." However, back then the Internet was not something everyone used for a majority of the day. The marvels of modern communication and technology continue to baffle me daily. It allows us to communicate with one another across the globe about things, instantaneously — regardless of their importance. This reminds me of the famous phrase from Voltaire, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Nowadays, we are connected at the press of a button to virtually anyone we want to talk to. We even have the ability to access their personal information, or their history. Since the beginning of time people have had disagreements about things. Whether it be over important business or minor predicaments, people that have made up their mind about their point of view on something are usually willing to stand and fight for what they think is the correct representation of a situation. Full of conviction, tenacity, and energy, people who engage and communicate at this level are very intense to say the least. However, communication through the Internet changes the dynamic.

Anyone, anywhere, can within minutes create for themselves an alter ego, find someone they have a disagreement with, and unabashedly make personal attacks at a level very few would have the courage to do in a face-to-face interaction. 
This is the age of thick-skin or slim chances — but like the leaves of fall, not all things just brush off of the common man's shoulders. There is an unspoken code of conduct that I think should at least be present in the back of everyone's mind during interactions such as these. Now, I can appreciate someone who has mastered a particular craft or art form, even something as trivial as making fun of strangers online with zero repercussions for their actions. Here’s my humble opinion: these sad individuals get a rise and personal edification out of negatively impacting the days of other people. From what I deduce, these people are insecure about their own lives and the prospect of their life not amounting to much, so they spread hate and lies to ridicule those on the path to success, or at least the intention thereof.

Those with a conviction on a particular subject I implore to stand and fight for what they believe is correct. However, I'm intrigued by the amount of energy, effort, and in some cases money, these so-called trolls put into attacking others. Perhaps the high school bullies of the 1980’s are manifesting themselves in a different manner, perhaps this is natural social evolution, or maybe I've just found myself on the receiving end of too many jokes. Regardless, whatever it is, whatever the root causes, I ask those of you reading this to take account of the things you say on the Internet. Would you really say that to that person's face? Because I don't think most of you would, and in some cases the opposite is what can be even more concerning. Young Millennials and Generation Z kids are used to not having to answer for their extremely poor behavior they exhibit and will be force-fed an incredibly large portion of harsh reality.

Those of you who have big goals and are looking to accomplish a level of success in your life should focus on the things you can control. Do not be seduced into succumbing to the ignorance and negativity of those who do not share your vision, passion or life experience.

To the haters and the trolls, I suggest you invest in a comfortable chair. Because if you ever want to get out from behind your computer and act the way you do online in a face-to-face interaction with another human being, you'll be surprised at the cost of your hospital bills.

 Author: Andrew Bell-Ramos