Lately, I’ve gotten the impression that a lot of people expect the internet to be a certain way. That assume it will be, well, nice. And honest. And welcoming. Understanding. Comfortable. I’ve got news for you: it’s not. It hasn’t been. It never will be.
It’s not that I don’t want it to be. I am compassionate enough that I want a place like that, at least some of the time. But the reality is that this is the internet and it offers a sense of anonymity which means many people throw morals, compassion or even just common sense out the window. Even if I put my name behind something, there’s no real ramifications for my behaviour (unless it’s illegal and, even then, internet crimes seem to be prosecuted far less than “real” ones). Who is Cole to you? And what can be done if I’m mean? Quite frankly, I like having a place where I sometimes can be mean.
But even if anonymity weren’t an issue, the internet is just not one place. It is many, many places with many different visitors and purposes and, perhaps most importantly, many different rules. In fact, I go many places online where they are no rules about bad behaviour. GASP! But even places with rules all have different rules and you have to seek them out, really. It’s pretty much a given that you can’t spend all your time in those places. I’m sorry. You will, almost certainly, wind up on some website where it’s okay to be a dick. Which means that either you can whine about it or suck it up because at the end of the day, people will be rude whether online or in your face and you can just turn off the damned computer anyway. No one is making you stay, participate in the drama or be a “victim.” You know how it goes: if you can’t take the heat, get the fuck off the internet.
But, like I said, even I enjoy having places with rules to visit. I like being able to go someplace and know what to expect (and that isn’t drama or harassment). Sometimes I don’t really want to deal with hostility and sometimes I want a place to rant or rave and to feel that people care. There is a time and place for that and I commend the people and groups who provide those safe havens in an otherwise unsafe internet world. It sometimes adds a level of comfort that cannot be found on anonymous, no holds barred websites. As much as you can say whatever the hell you want, it adds a safety net.
But it’s not impervious, either. Even if you make rules, they cannot be enforced unless someone breaks them. Sometimes? That’s already too late. The damage is done. Even if you try to stick to those safe places, shit will happen. People will break the rules because, honestly, how serious is banning as a consequence when there are a million other sites online? And how much shit can one person stir before a moderator has the chance to step in, especially if there is only one or two?
This is the internet. Sure, there are lots of LOLcats but there’s also many negatives about it because, at the end of the day, it’s made up of people and even good ones have bad days and make poor judgment calls. If that’s too much for handle you, I suspect your monthly internet fund would be better spent getting professional help.