Thursday, March 3, 2011

Freddie Krueger at the Desk

Hey guys,

So I was browsing around the blogosphere the other day, and I checked up on Rachel Vincent's homepage (for those of you who don't know, RV is the author of the Soul Screamers series).  I encourage you to read this post of hers regarding a rather rude comment she received anonymously:

In Response...

Did you read it?  At least through about the rude comment I was referring to?  Good.  I'm not here to give comment on this particular incident (obviously Rachel handled it in a mature, classy fashion and doesn't need me to drag it out), but this all got me thinking about the major issue of internet anonymity.

Why oh why does anonymity - the ability to be nameless and faceless on someone's website - turn so many of us into jerks?  I'm not innocent.  I'll admit, I've been needlessly argumentative and contrary and probably even mean online before, never under my own name of course.  But that was a huge mistake.  It can be fun, the belief that you're insulated from the consequences of your own poor behavior.  But truthfully the worst consequence is inescapable - the person on the other side of your words, who may be hurt, devastated, scared, or very, very angry about what you said.

In my lifetime, I've lived four houses down from a murderer, and more than one of my friends has attempted suicide.  I've been alive for eighteen years, and had those experiences in my own backyard.  There are millions and millions of people on the internet, some of whom are absolutely normal, some of whom are apt to hurt themselves, and some of whom would like to hurt you.  You don't want to provoke any of them, just as I didn't want to give my neighborhood killer the finger or mock my troubled friends.  Be respectful, be kind, and remember that when talking to someone on the internet, you may as well be talking to them face-to-face, for the damage words can do to you and others.

On the internet, you never know who you may be talking to.
I've been chatting recently with some of the people working at Jodi's Voice, an organization started to promote awareness of stalking as a serious crime.  Jodi Sanderholm was kidnapped and murdered in 2007 by her stalker.  I encourage you to visit the website, read about the crime of stalking, and make sure you know the best ways to stay safe, both online and off.

Above all, just remember that you're important, and that our world is not 100% safe.  Debate is healthy; online warfare is not.  And unlike Rachel Vincent's anonymous commenter, please don't say anything on the internet that you wouldn't say to someone's face.  It's as much a matter of protecting yourself as it is of protecting them.

Hearts and hugs,


No comments: