Intolerance of others. Nothing pisses me off more. Sadly the internet is riddled with people actively being intolerant of others. And it comes from a simple aspect – how easy it is to be anonymous on the internet. At the same time, what causes one particular problem on the internet, also provides a massive degree of protection for the same segments that are being disrespected through the intolerant attitudes of others. Allow me a few moments to explain a little deeper….
The internet is the ultimate anonymizer. A few minutes time, I can have a new Gmail account of my choosing under an identity that doesn’t exist. A few minutes more, and I can create a Facebook account to compliment the Gmail account. And then I am on to creating my new personae throughout other Social Media platforms. Then, utilizing this “new” personae, I can undertake many nasty, personal attacks against others. I can say things to them that I would never dare to do so face-to-face. All because the internet allows me to assume my cloak of anonymity. But it works the other way around too. An individual who has something to say – profound or not – can utilize the same mantle of anonymity, to protect themselves from others within their community. An individual can keep a degree of anonymity about their sexual preference, without fear that they could become the next Matthew Shepard (may the Gods allow him rest and strength in the next lifetime).
Its that fine line. We want the ability to be on the internet with the freedom to express ourselves openly…and yet, we want the trolls to go away. I teach classes on Business Information Systems, and have an entire block dedicated to this topic – as well as a Participation Exercise where I get the students to tackle the topic of internet anonymity. Rolled into that is the simple point of how much authority is desired on the internet.
So, let’s try and tackle this for a moment. Would we want to remove all the anonymity on the internet? Everyone is provided with a singular internet account, with their real name permanently affixed to it. You could change the nickname anytime that you want – but your real name would be tagged to it. Would this stifle communications around the world? Would people stop posting and communicating because of the real name affixed to their internet ID? What about faking identities or spoofing identities? And all of that doesn’t even begin to address how all of that will be policed.
Who would be the controlling authority on the internet? The United States? After all, the US is responsible for approximately 90% of the business end of the internet – a number that’s been steadily declining over the past five years as other countries begin to provide services and goods through the electronic frontier. No? Probably so. A singular country in control of the infrastructure would likely stifle the business market end of everything. The United Nations? Seriously? A body of countries that has some much trouble agreeing with one another over the simplest of agreements? Nine Hells, its doubtful you could get their delegates to agree over what’s for dinner. Add to all of that – digital copyright laws – which are different throughout the world, depending on what soil you have between your toes at that moment.
::looking back:: Schtako. That got complicated really quick, didn’t it? But that’s the slippery slope of pursuing the anonymity aspect of the internet. Let’s face it, trolls will always be here on the internet. There will always be people who have nothing better to do with their time than to disparage other’s points of view. The best thing is to not feed those trolls. Let them sit under their bridge and take their pot-shots. Certainly, their words can hurt. But let’s remember that their existence is one of self-hate and anger. Sooner or later (hopefully sooner), they will move on in their lives – and potentially grow up. Perhaps not. Perhaps they will attempt to do something physical as an escalation of their anger and hate. That’s a different violation of a person’s personal space…and one I certainly hope each of us is ready to protect to the nth degree of the Nine Hells. Whether that be through the laws of that same soil I mentioned before or through some other manner which I will not speak of. Because at that time, those poor souls filled with hatred will discover – karma’s a bitch, and she’s got really sharp claws and teeth.