There is a lot of good in this world, and unfortunately, there is also a fair amount that’s very wrong with it. Take the situation in the Middle East, not to mention the rise (and hopefully eventual fall) of ISIS. For the average person across the globe, we can thankfully say that we don’t take part in, or have to deal with this terrible evil. But I believe there are many of us, including myself, who have taken a part in, and are still taking part in a relatively new kind of evil, online. This begins and ends in the dreaded… duh duh duuuuuuh…. Comments Section.
If by some random chance you don’t know what the “comments section” of a website is, firstly: WTF dude?? And secondly, let me enlighten you.
The comment section is that little box where you can enter in your opinion on any post you have just read. Be it on a blog, YouTube, Facebook and just about any other website. The idea behind the existence of this section is to allow one to share their view on the post, stimulate conversation or some such activity. However, its basically become a home for Trolls. What is an Internet Troll you may be asking?
The lowest form of human scum after a rapist
A useless individual who receives excitement from degrading others
Someone seeking attention because they have no desire to earn it in a positive way
Or simply… a douchebag.
So what exactly is my problem?
As I mentioned above, the comment section is meant to drive debate, conversation, to say if one agrees or disagrees with the contents of the post, or heaven forbid, say how much they love your cat video. This does still happen to some degree, however, for the most part, it has become a breeding ground for some of the evilest stuff you have ever read. People write hate speech, racist remarks, and completely destroy the soul of the writer or anything else you can fathom.
But why is this allowed?
Well, the first is the fact that the mere existence of the problem is proof that the Internet is working the way it should. We want the Internet to remain open and free. It allows free-flowing information and the all-important (and ever increasing in value) commodity that is anonymity. But this anonymity allows us to create online accounts that don’t link directly back to us and therefore allowing us to freely say and do what we like with no recourse. Sure Facebook requires real names now, and up until recently so did Google, but what about the rest of it? We can continue to bash our fellow man with heinous language and it’s just, ok?
A year ago Google tried to rectify this issue on YouTube, by forcing anyone who wishes to comment to own a Google+ account, which in turn was linked to an account with your real identity, and therefore nowhere to hide. You think the world would appreciate this, but nay. They didn’t. At all.
In the same way, you despised your parents for forcing you to eat broccoli, people heaped hatred on Google. However, you grew up all big and strong, and so did the YouTube comments. They become constructive, rather than destructive. Purposeful, and not a cesspool. Unfortunately, though, the world did not embrace Google’s vision, and they have now dropped this requirement and we’re back to where we started. So where does the solution lie? It’s simple.
I think it’s safe to say that world has become a mean place in recent decades. Free speech and individualism has been all the rage, and don’t get me wrong these are great ideas worthy of stimulation, but at what cost? We can openly disrespect, slander and abuse each other and write it off as free speech. Should some challenge this freedom, and we are off to the courts to fix it. We say the Internet is a public forum and we are therefore able to say and do what we feel. But let me ask you. Would you openly verbally abuse and demean someone in the street that you randomly overheard having a conversation? Or heap insults at someone during a group discussion? Highly doubtful.
So why do it online? Because “we can, and what are people going to do about it”? We need to change our attitudes regarding our online lives. We need to start treating our online personas the same way we treat our real-life personas. We need to start being more thoughtful and respectful in both spheres, or the world is just going to become an increasingly ugly place. Trolling people on the Internet has to stop, and it starts with you, me, and the comments section.