In Bridges and Tangent’s blog today about the hostility witnessed in internet forums , “Alan Jacobs has a different answer to why so much hostility is projected through this media. He thinks it is because we have an over-developed sense of justice, that is not balanced or tempered by the virtues of humility and charity”.
In cyberspace, we are like guinea pigs, testing out a new system before it goes live. Only it already went live and the testing was not complete. Acclaimed as empowering, the users are free to explore and behave in whatever way they want. The speed of our communication continues to accelerate – in the last five minutes, I know from tweets that someone was too busy to drink coffee (and then the poster sends out five tweets in a row); what someone else just ate for breakfast (I love marmite); that someone’s relationship is breaking down (probably before the other partner does); and that the Frieze Art Show this weekend is more than about buying and selling it is about Grayson Perry in hot pink tights! By the end of today, we will have read and clicked on several million tweets and links. The world has reached a level of information – it overwhelmes and bewilders us and at the same time excites, intrigues and seduces us.
Across the internet we can be or do what we want be. Or can we? The story of Tyler Clementi shocked the world into the true implications of this. We can be who we want to be, but we cannot drag other’s in. Our actions, words, attacks, hostilities and rages projected outwards can cause all levels of harm to those who we interact with. The biggest problem we have encountered so far is that cyberspace does not exist – it is abstract and indefinable. When we cannot physically interact with something we face the biggest challenge to accepting that it is real.