Opinion

No mothers indeed: The unrealized potential of the Internet

The back panel of a satellite modem, with coax...

The back panel of a satellite modem, with coaxial connections for both incoming and outgoing signals, and an Ethernet port for connection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Internet is great. And he or she who has the most time to waste typically has the last word on the Internet, especially when it comes to popular debate.

I am guilty of wasting time on the Internet like anyone else. But, I do not have an Internet persona that is a different entity than I am. In other words, if you know Bob in real life you would know it’s Bob here, even without the byline.

The Internet doesn’t make it easy to understand issues of the day. There is no shortage of information on any and all subjects. All of this input may sound beneficial towards forming conclusions on any given subject. But, it often increases the challenges to fully understanding the problems of today and where the solutions may come from.

I think one of the biggest blessings and curses of the Internet is its ability to influence. Unfortunately a lot of this influence is negative. The Internet lends a voice to all on issues of the day and by doing so theoretically puts practical solutions to society’s ills in front of everyone—our leaders included.

Ironically enough, instead of maintaining constructive dialogues on important subjects, the Internet fosters deterioration of thought, piling on and bullying. I would suggest its most popular use these days is to conduct digital slip fights. That’s right. We use the Internet to rank out all those who would think differently than we do. #yousuckbecauseyoudon’tthinklikeme

In the pre-Internet days, slip fights were far less vicious. Until they involved mothers. Like George Carlin used to say in one of his skits, “No mothers, man, no mothers.”

The Internet has no such rules. In fact, popular social media do nothing to discourage any forms of bullying, cruelty or inappropriate behavior unless it’s deemed possibly racial or politically incorrect. The likes of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, however, don’t have any problem whatsoever using Twitter as their slip fight social media battle ground of choice. And we cheer them both on.

“Ooh, good dis, Hillary!”

“Did you see Trump call her out? Man!”

Our comments about them are stupid and make us as pathetic as they are. We look mentally challenged. We’re on the Internet rating the efficacy of their insults to one another.

Is this the road to prosperity and a better life for all?

Slip fight sounds pretty innocuous, especially when compared to the actual exchanges that go on between our presidential candidates. So what kind of an example are they setting for anyone interested in the future of the country and its people?

Where has tolerance and respect gone?

The Internet held so much promise during its dial-up modem days. We sat and waited for images to come into focus and our instant messages to not come across so instantly (so and so is typing a message…). It was all good, though, because this great communication tool was going to be the unifying force in the world that we never had before.

Instead, the Internet and broadband access lead us to the opposite of productivity and human advancement as a whole. It may have been unintentional. The Internet was the tool for which there was no manual for its operation. Anything always went. And anything and everything negative under the sun is what it has produced in terms of exposing our need for attention at any cost, at any time.

During print media’s heyday, the worst side of human nature was limited to letters to the editor criticizing something or someone. But, they appeared at the discretion of the paper’s editor. Today, there is no such editing or responsible omission of letters or comments that promote hatred or ridicule to one or more groups of people.

Mostly, during the height of newspapers, people just read and then moved on, hardly having the time to engage in personal wars in print. We had jobs to do and families to support. Now, we do neither at the quality levels of yesteryear. This is probably at least partly responsible for our current state of affairs.

We’ve gone from being a country that always welcomed anyone willing to work hard and be good citizens, to a land where you can fully expect to experience outward hatred, violence, disrespect and intolerance–at not one, but several times in your life (if you can live through them).

For some reason, we still have a lot of time to engage in unsavory practices online. We are no longer interested in solutions that speak to the broadest audience. We prefer to be increasingly divisive. If you don’t like my ideas or opinion, you are a rotten, filthy, unclean piece of fill-in-the-blank.

Why the mean-spiritedness and constant need to lash out, be on the offensive to anyone and everyone? Are we that unhappy with our lives that we gauge whether or not we’ve had a good day on the basis of who we’ve slammed online?

I for one never saw this coming. It’s hard to say where things go from here, especially when minds far greater than mine have not come forward to demonstrate where that turn should be made and to what. Until we can figure out how to get back on track, how to be productive, how to help take care of each other and our communities again, I suggest lightening up.

Intensity is a great thing in the sporting arena but not so much in the real world. They say calm heads prevail. But there is anything but calm now and the Internet is a feeding frenzy of emotion and negative feelings at a collectively fevered pitch.

The Internet is still a great tool. It’s just that it’s lost its way because of its negative customers. Will its present, embarrassing, unproductive utilization by the shameless majority be its legacy upon the arrival of its successor? I think so, but that takes for granted there will be a successor to the Internet. #I’vehadthelastword

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