The Wandering Poet

Buffy Brinkley on the Things that Inspire my Life, my Pen, and my Heart.

It Takes A World To Raise The Internet 

on June 17, 2015

We live in the digital age. An entire generation of people have no idea what the world was like before the World Wide Web, smartphones, email, or social media. Information can be gotten with a simple search and information can be sent with the click of a button.

Growing up, if I wanted to see my friends, I didn’t log in to Skype or dial with FaceTime, I went outside or I drove to wherever we were meeting. If I wanted to talk to someone on the phone while away from the house, I had to wait until I got home, or find a pay phone. If I wanted to find information, I went to the library and searched by hand through the card catalog and used my knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System (Google it!) to find the book I wanted.

If someone wanted to bully me, they either had to wait until their parents were asleep to crank call me, or pass a childish note in class, or they had to bully me to my face!

A lot has changed!

With the instantaneous delivery and receipt of information (good or ill), the patience and tolerance levels in our  society have taken a serious nose dive toward destruction. Why? Because we are detached from each other. We don’t visit our friends as often. Instead, we Skype, we FaceTime, we email, we tweet, we Facebook. All these modern methods of communication which make communicating faster and more efficient have served to isolate us from the very people to whom we should be connecting. And feeling isolated can cause bad behavior in some of us. Our impatience and ease with which we can judge one another and the detachment we feel often manifests itself into cyberbullying.

Richard Armitage, CyberSmile Ambassador (and awesome actor), recently wrote a blog regarding just this subject. He suggested a think-before-you-type-or-send approach.

This certainly worked when I was growing up. Think before you pick up the phone and crank call someone. What if you get caught? Grounded! Think before you pass that note in class. What if your teacher catches you? Writing “I will not pass notes in class” 100 times on the chalkboard will cure that one! Think before you bully someone to their face. What if they’re not as weak (and you’re not as tough) as you thought?

When faced with consequences of our actions where a real possibility of our own punishment exists, we are more likely to think more about how to act and what to say, and what to write, and what not to. But what about on social media? What prevents us from doing or saying or writing whatever we choose, regardless of how inappropriate or cruel?

Simply this: as with the social cues which caused people of my generation to think more, we should continue to keep in the forefront of our minds that everything has a consequence. EVERYTHING. Be it for good or ill. And while the cause and effect of people’s actions was easy to see and learn from in my generation, it’s practically invisible today. And, because it is so hard to see, we have more reason now to be kind and considerate to one another than ever before.

Everybody has an obstacle to face. No one is immune, no matter how well they hide their struggle. So be kind. You cannot know the pain someone hides. Be considerate. You cannot know how much it will mean. We all must rise above our own pettiness. We must all work together to make the internet a good place. Being kind is easy. It takes tremendous effort, planning, and energy to be cruel.

Whether face-to-face or on social media: Treat others as you’d want to be treated and be the friend you’d want to have. 😊 



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