Division In The Internet Age

I know that we want this utopian ideal internet where it never matters what race, gender or nationality a person is and I think we are getting close to that. When I’m reading on the internet, rarely ever think about or even want to know whether the person who did the writing a man or woman, black or white, it just doesn’t matter and I think most people can agree with that.

But! Of course there is a but. I think things that generally people are casual about in real life can be very decisive and almost aggressive about on the internet. I think the perceived notion that people have about others on the internet being far away gives them, in their mind, a license to say whatever they want. I would have to say in my about 15 years of using the internet, some of the most hateful, insulting and rude things I’ve heard and read other people saying to one another were on the internet.

So this is my perspective and I could be wrong. In life we have many divisions, religion, race, location, income level, etc. Those things don’t matter as much on the internet, but online you find division among almost every single topic. Like what social network do you belong to, what type of internet browser are you using, what car you drive, have you been to automobile forums? You will find some incredible hate talk and insulting things that people would virtually never say in real life to someone because of the car they drive. It blows my mind how people are. People are rejecting major divisions but embracing very small and seemingly insignificant divisions. I may not know how much Johnny1234 makes a year, but I know which music videos he comments on YouTube and I know much Billy98765 hates Johnny1234’s taste in music by his very degrading responses to his comments. And they both could be neighbors, voting Democrat, attending the same church, and have kids that attend the same schools. Yet because Johhny1234 likes Linkin Park’s cover of Adele’s Rolling In The Deep and made comment expressing that and Billy9876 totally disagreed and therefore decided to leave a hateful comment about Johnny1234 I’m sure they would never be friends on YouTube. In real life most people would consider it rude to even put down someone’s opinion and whether they disagreed or not, they would just get along and work together.

3 thoughts on “Division In The Internet Age

  1. I actually never thought bias on the Internet was so bad. I usually don’t read the news, unless it catches my attention. I spend most of my time online doing things that is related to my education. However; with the hate crime act, it happens even in the offline world. During my senior year, I watched gangs fighting in the cafeteria every single day, what a horror! Even though on the online world, hate crime act is what seems normal. The difference between the online world and the offline world is hate crime act in the offline world is regulated and disciplined. There is no discipline in the online world.

  2. I honestly don’t think these things are such a big problem as the race/gender/etc. barriers that divide us in real life. In the Internet, you count the people who are “like” you as the people who have similar viewpoints and tastes as you. I mean, there are so many people everywhere that we’re realistically not going to get along with all of them. I’d rather have my Internet divided by the people who like Adele + Linkin Park and those who don’t because there is no idea of privilege and dominance tied in with one group.
    Also, I know oftentimes anonymity causes awful things, but I’ve been in a few places where anonymous contributers were incredibly civil, even towards the people/viewpoints they didn’t like so much. So I think there’s really just a spectrum online as there is in real life. It’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a part of being human.

  3. Thank you for your comments Tessa and Caryn. Tessa I agree, the kind of respect and discipline that is expected from one another in real life doesn’t exist in the same way online. Though one can’t physically hurt another human being directly online, the anger and hate that drives murder can definitely be seen.
    I see your point Caryn, but I personally believe that a divide over race or preference in music is equally wrong can make people feel rejected and bad just for being who they are. And yes, I agree, in the end it is part of being human. We all naturally gravitate towards those who are like us and separate from those who are very different.

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