Cruelty on the internet is a pet peeve of mine.
I admit it: I have a love-hate relationship with the internet. I love it because it gives me the ability to ferret out a lot of information. It’s like having my own personal library, or the content of multiple Encyclopedia Britannica volumes at my fingertips.
As an information fiend, a learner, and an avid book lover, I have always mined books for fun and information alike. Books are a treasure chest for me. The internet works a bit in a similar way.
Nevertheless, the internet also does more for me. It enables me to keep in touch with my family abroad. Admittedly, the internet is a very practical and convenient tool.
On the other hand, I hate it because it’s a cesspool of sludge. It can be a minefield. And, it can be merciless.
I understand the internet is a tool, it is not a living breathing entity although—in my opinion—it resembles a fire-breathing dragon a bit. As a tool, it can be used for good or for evil depending on the person who wields it.
In my opinion, many who use the internet can be far too cruel.
I used to have the bad habit of 1) openly expressing my opinions on Facebook and 2) to read the comments after articles. I would strongly suggest you do neither of these things.
However, rest assured, I will give you my reasons knowing full well that—as an adult—it will fall upon you to decide what floats your boat.
Cruelty On The Internet: Facebook
During my early years on Facebook, I was naive—and admittedly a bit presomptuous—and I felt it was incumbent upon me to right a wrong—or what I perceived as a wrong. So, enters Florence on her grand horse to share her unwanted—and unsolicited—knowledge, which resulted in me falling from said horse on far too many occasions
The thing of it is, I am a smart cookie—even if I don’t always do or say the smartest thing.
After going on this merry-go-round a few times, I realized that the people I was addressing and whom I did not know couldn’t care less about my opinion may they be valid or not. I came across as a know-it-all at best and judgemental at worst.
The thing is, even IF I was right—which I was at times—I could never convince perfect strangers of that fact ESPECIALLY if they felt attacked or judged in the process.
Moreover, some of the lessons I was liberally sharing were achieved by me making the same mistakes I was accusing them of making. I have not always had my ducks in a row—In fact, I still don’t. I have made plenty of blunders and I assume this will be the case until I breathe my last.
Ultimately, as Maya Angelou said, when you know better you do better.
The thing is, even when a well-meaning stranger wants to show us the error of our ways, rarely will we accept their opinion at face value.
Because we don’t know them and we are automatically put on the defensive.
If people want to know your opinion, they usually will ask. Any gratuitous information dispensed liberally is most often unwelcome.
Keep Your Opinion to Yourself
Now, after a few useless battles in which I came out bloodied and bruised—and I was not the only casualty— I decided this information sharing and nitpicking was a waste of my time and energy. Likewise, this habit wasn’t all that healthy for my blood pressure either.
The great thing about my computer and my laptop, they come with a scroll feature. As a matter of fact, Facebook also provides me with a block and a hide feature as well. Nifty really, and features I have employed on multiple occasions.
For me, Facebook is no longer a platform for debate.
Moreover, Facebook is optional. No one forces me to log on.
Regular housekeeping—aka cleaning my friends’ list—is also a wonderful way to keep the internet drama at bay.
Now, to those I was the source of the aforementioned drama—and the resulting headache—please accept my apologies. The good news is now that I know better, I do better.
Cruelty On The Internet: Comments
As to the comments at the end of ANY articles no matter the slant, the side, the party, the religion, no matter….they are beyond mean.
Because hiding behind a screen gives us this false sense of anonymity. This means cowards feel free to dehumanize everyone that who does not agree with them. They utter words—I would hope—they would not tell anyone face to face.
Years ago, I had a neighbor with a different political bent than me. You know what? We got along marvelously. She is a wonderful loving and caring human being and I genuinely love her. Guess what? We avoided politics and we never felt the need to call each other names.
We knew each other and our character and our hearts and that was enough. So what if we did not agree in the political arena? She came to different conclusions than me. On the rare occasions when we did discuss politics, we realized we had far more in common than we thought.
You See It, Now You Don’t
When it comes to comments on the internet, some spread hate like the wind spreads dandelion seeds. The comments are not only cruel and demeaning, but they are also meant to dehumanize those who are seen as dissidents. Anyone is fair game, those in the limelight, the writers, and other commenters.
Reading such comments always leave me convinced we have lost our humanity and that our society is headed nowhere I want to go.
I have a zero tolerance policy on any of my sites or social media venues for such comments. None.
Recently, someone left a mean comment on a recipe on this site about one ingredient he deemed inappropriate. Why anyone would take three precious minutes out of their finite life to complain about one ingredient when they just have the freedom to just not use the recipe is beyond my understanding. Really?
And while I do not mind those with a different point of view or who have an honest question, calling me something akin to a pinheaded nincompoop for not knowing better got this gentleman’s comment deleted—I use the term gentleman tongue in cheek because a gentle man, he was not. That’s three wasted minutes of this man’s life he will never get back. I hope it was worth it—although I highly doubt it.
But One Person
I am well aware I am but one person and I don’t have much influence to change the vileness on the internet. That’s true. This fact could leave me despondent. This is the society I am raising my children in and this is the society my grandchildren are being raised in.
Scary at times. Very scary.
Moreover, I am no paragon of virtue. I can’t say I have never engaged in less than savory behaviors…I wish. Nope, I too belong to the human race and I too have the ability to dehumanize others or put my foot in my mouth.
What I can—and aim—to do is to become the best person I can be.
You know how at funerals, there is usually a eulogy? One time, I heard an individual say we should strive to become the person we want to be eulogized when our time comes.
What will we leave behind? How will we be remembered?
Great advice I think.
Likewise, when I look in the mirror I want to know I am becoming my best every day. For this reason, even when I want to comment, I don’t. I won’t take part in smut. It is not worth it.
And when we must disagree, can’t we do so meanwhile realizing the person on the other side of the screen is also a human being?
Cruelty On The Internet
Sadly, I think cruelty on the internet is here to stay. Rather than being despondent, I can do my part…and I can only answer for my part. I can live with that…and I can teach my children these lessons as well. Bullying is not okay.
Will I always behave in ways which behoove me and others? Will I always be courteous and civil? Probably not. I am not aiming for perfection—I know better. My intent is to become better and do better day by day. In the meantime, I will continue to scroll, delete, and count to ten.