Sunday, 9 January 2011

Cyberspace - the new mask for hatred

They call themselves critics or commentators, I prefer the term cowards. I refer to those who hide behind cyberspace in order to voice their hate-filled and often obscene ideas. Pick any website from news sources like to gossip ones like to Youtube, social networks like Twitter; take a moment to read some of the comments made by people in response to contributors' opinions and postings and chances are your blood will run cold.

Human beings seem capable of expressing such loathsome ideas, and of so much hatred often in response to some of the most trivial things when there is no fear of them having to defend their ideas publically. It reminds me of the Klu Klux Klan and their masks as they carried out lynchings and like that, it smacks of cowardice whichever way we look at it.

I am a firm believer in standing by your convictions, however unpopular. If you believe in something you should have the courage to defend it. If however a person is simply harbouring hateful ideas which have no place in society and cannot be defended then rather than using the internet which can be a positive and progressive tool, they should consider keeping those thoughts locked in their warped mind or better still think about speaking to a professional about their issues.

I enjoy using the internet, emailing, blogging and keeping in touch with friends and family; my work is almost entirely reliant on this medium. Yet the internet also frightens me ....quite a lot; hence the decision to not include my personal details in this blog. In the past, I've been the object of hateful and anonymous email messages whose origin I have no idea of, more than two years later. I also limit my children's exposure to the internet because of the number of psychos who I believe reside in cyberspace.
I once found a Youtube video of the Little Mermaid which started with the character Ariel singing only for it to morph into some 'nutter' launching into his own version of 'Part of your world' whilst gyrating in front of his webcam. Clearly he did this in order to lure children who would expect to see a full version of the Disney classic and would instead end up viewing some deranged grown man clearly in need of his medication or locking up for all our sakes.
On another occasion I pulled up a video again on Youtube of the Kidz Bop version of the song 'Hey, I love you' which a friend posted on her Facebook only to be confronted with comments that included obscene name-calling of children in the group whose music is aimed at 3-10 year olds. More recently I happened upon Rihanna's twitter page and saw an exchange between her and a 'follower' where the latter made a misogynistic comment in response to a positive message the singer had posted. Clearly not wanting to seem like a spoil-sport, she responded to him; although my approach would have been to simply 'block' the moron!
Call me naive but does it not go without saying that as human beings we wont all share the same opinions or find the same things appealling? And if that is accepted as a given, then why subject yourself to something you dislike only to lay into it? For instance, I don't care for rock music so it would be insane of me to watch an Aerosmith video only to post insults directed at the band because their music 'sucks' to use a common cyber term.

I think debate is healthy and yes by all means critique someone's work but using real parameters not simply your personal like or dislike. If someone writes an opinion piece, it is simply that, an opinion piece, they are not reporting the news, they are simply giving their opinion on something, therefore the analysis should be based on whether that opinion was well-presented, balanced or convincing. If someone has 'left-wing' ideas you can be certain they are not setting out to convince a 'right-wing' reader. So for that reader to accuse them of being liberal or leftist is really to state the obvious; to go further and spout hateful words or try to discredit their professionalism simply on the basis of a difference of opinion is childish and to do so from the comfort of a barren living room where only the 'critic' and his lonely computer sit...quite pathetic.

On this blog, I choose to moderate comments not because I don't welcome criticism but simply because I refuse to provide a forum for the frustrated and borderline insane to air their questionable opinions.
I read a number of blogs and sometimes I agree with what the person says, other times I don't, if a piece is well written I will say so. If I dont think it is then I simply wont post a comment because I know that there are others out there who will beg to differ. I also think it's morally wrong to belittle the work of someone or worse defame them while hiding behind some ridiculous cyber name.

Fortunately there is an increase in cases of internet slander or internet libel so people will be forced to think twice about what they post on the internet 'anonymously'. Likewise there is an ongoing debate about incitment to hatred on the internet which while recognising that Freedom of expression extends to the internet, acknowledges that it carries with it the same responsibilities as it does in the real world.

1 comment:

Mike the anonymous Blogger Bounty Hunter said...

Consider if you will a grazier who has had his animals destroyed and barns and fields burnt-out by an enemy; the withering effect on his source of income is thorough. This can be likened to a a white-collar worker, artist, doctor, plumber, or executive who needs his/her respectability to obtain new business, and maintain current business, will be as totally broken as the farmer depicted above as the outcome of an effective cyber defamation assault. The exception being that the community, the police, the courts and jurors can more easily relate to the severity of the farmer’s loss.

An underlying failing of anonymous internet libel is that it has less believability if critically considered by levelheaded and open-minded third parties. Notwithstanding, there is a new dynamic with the problem of vicious and anonymous bloggers. Whilst vitriol may be clearly unfounded, if the target is being assessed for a job, contract awards, Boy Scout leadership (or dating), then the person conducting the background check needs to look at the likely public relations risks associated with associating with the poor dupe. Whilst the prospective employer may see through the fulmination, the decision maker will need to reflect on what their customers and partners will presume if less sophisticated or objective.

We should think about what J.F Kennedy said in the early 60s: "The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society", this applies as much to secret but conniving cyber bullies as to elite networks he eluded to.