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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Friends, relationships, and the fear of reprisal,

A friend of mine, +Song Smith has written a very insightful post about protecting your privacy when using the internet. This is an important concern in today's hypersensitive world. She is a thoughtful, entertaining person, who posts polite, interesting articles about life, travels, and a charming cat with an excess of personality.  She has a right to be concerned, too. People are vigilant about anything that might offend them no matter how inoffensive it might be.

But, it reminds me of the power of the internet, an awesome, frightening power. It is so wild, so wonderful, so terrifying, and so intimidating and yet so commonplace we just look at it as part of life.

This morning, a friend of mine from Kuwait sent me an article about Babylon that he is going to post on our history blog. I finished a short story for a contest a friend of mine from New Hampshire is sponsoring, I congratulated a friend of mine from Germany on her recent marriage, and commented on a blog post from a friend in England.

I have never met any of these people, but they are friends, and I have a relationship with all of them. It is through the power of the world wide web.

Back to Song Smith, though. Here is an educated, reasonable, person whose posts express the ebb and flow of life as an adult. There is nothing you couldn't let your Mother read. But, she has to wear the mask of anonymity out of fear of retribution.

There was an old saying; "your right to swing your arm stops just short of my nose." I don't know how true that ever was. Having lived through several decades of hate, envy and bitterness it seems more cliche than rule of thumb. Today noses are being disjointed, and put out of place over the slightest breeze.

Here is a multi-lingual person with a delightful sense of humor, a desire to connect with people and find some kinship being throttled by people whose idea of being moral and proper is holding people to standards that only apply to others.

And, that is the problem with the internet, many people hide behind the distance to attack others, and they should be ignored. And many use the internet to bludgeon others with judgement and hate and they should be ignored, as well. But, too many people are afraid to say, "This is not a problem, this is a solution, only small minded people would mistake the two."

We have unique opportunity to bring the world closer together, find similarities, common areas of interest, a chance to see in others the things we enjoy in ourselves. But, if we only see the things that frighten us about ourselves it becomes a wedge that drives us further apart, and fills us with dread, and hate.

Which direction will society look, nobody knows, history doesn't offer much insight, but at the same time it does not inspire much optimism.