The internet and morals

On Valentine’s Day this year a man shot his girlfriend, about five minutes after the incident came to be public knowledge, just about every form of social media was flooded with the usual comments, this time however people were joking about it. Joking about a woman who could have possibly been the victim of an abuse or about a poor man who could have made a mistake and shot the woman he loved. I’m not here to argue about whether or not he was guilty; I’m here to ponder about whether you or I are guilty.

Sometimes I like to be snarky when I’m on the internet, but not when it comes down to real life issues. Surely that’s where the buck stops, where we need to take responsibility for what we say and wonder if in ‘real life’ we would actually say it. If not, why is it okay to joke about it on the internet then?

I confronted a few of my Facebook associates on their statuses, some apologised some told me to get off my soap box and stop preaching. When did it become preaching to question joking about one of the big ‘do not’s’ in this world, don’t kill, and does the fact that he was a public figure make it okay to joke about? If a famous man had raped his wife or a famous woman had accidentally drowned her baby, would this be okay to laugh about? Are we so hardened to the ways of the world that the only thing left to do is laugh about it, or are we so detached from our fellow man to even care unless something has a direct impact on our lives.

With the dawn of Facebook and Twitter it has become easy to just mouth off about anything and everything without actually thinking about it, we have seen time and time again how people have made derogatory statements on one of the platforms and have gotten into ‘real life’ trouble for their words. We need to realise that in fact this cyber world we often immerse our lives in is directly related to the real world and at the essence of it who we are as people.

It’s not some distant far off land where we can say or do anything without any consequences or some confrontation regarding our views regardless of what they are or if they are deemed wrong or right. There are of course times when all of us have said something we regret, that’s just life I guess. But continued trolling really does shine some light in who we are as moral creatures. At what point do the morals we’ve been taught or innately have while we are on the internet.

When did it become okay to go onto News24 and put a blatantly racist sexist or truly evil comment up just because no one knows who you are? Would you scream “Afrikaaner’s are the route of all evil and scum of the earth,” at the top of your lungs in the middle of the next Park Acoustics? Or “All Black’s are criminals and should be shot,” at Faraday Station during rush hour? (Please note these are actual comments). The ability to be anonymous can free us up to express some things we would never openly express in public, but does this make it right? Why should anonymity matter though? Surely we are taught or inclined to be at least somewhat decent in our daily dealings in the real world? Why should the same not be true for the world of the Internet?

One of the first things we are taught in school is that with rights come responsibilities something that is seen throughout literature and history. We need to be responsible with our thoughts and actions even though we have the right to freedom of speech.

What are your thoughts? Comment below!


5 comments on “The internet and morals

  1. Rod says:

    I wonder just how many people subscribe to the notion that ‘With rights comes responsibility’? I fear that the social media explosion has served only to innure use to the reality of a life that is increasingly lived vicariously.
    People seem to revel in the sufering of others, or at least make fun of them, because they’re basically glad that it’s not happening to them and in any case the protection garnered from countless layers of separation dehumanises the groups or individuals that are suffering..
    The analoigy that springs to mind is that beef doesn’t come from cow’s but from Aisle 6 at Woolworths or Pick’n’Pay. There is a growth in the detachment from reality that people are experiencing that is undoubtedly aided by the advent of social media and the effect it has of bombarding us with information.
    I believe there is also an element of what might be called “Reality Fatigue” whereby the unfortunate events of Valentine’s Day are just another in an endless stream of tragedy and grief to which we are exposed.
    It is cliched and hackneyed but familiarity breeds contempt and the attempt to escape or ameliorate one’s own suffering or plight in comparison to the suffering and plight of others appears to be a new religion. .

  2. Jenny Wright says:

    Anna-belle I am so proud of you – it takes courage and tenacity in this day and age to stand up and be heard when one is challeneging values of today – ypou have this is great measures. It is heartlifting to know that there are young people out there who are prepared to take responsibility – of rtheir thoughts, wors and actions. Well done!!

  3. Jenny Wright says:

    apologies for the spelling – trying to type too fast!

  4. Ashleigh says:

    This is such a huge problem on the internet. There is a horseracing forum, called ABC (believe it or not – African Betting Clan!) where there are a bunch of bitter middle aged men who spend their lives insulting others, moaning, and generally talking nonsense about people in the horse racing industry. The issue I have is that the horseracing world here in SA is a very small one, and everyone knows everyone else’s business, countrywide. The comments are derogatory and insulting, sexist, and sometimes racist. Many of these people is willing to put their name to their defamatory and inflammatory statements. Instead they hide behind their greasy keyboards, and racehorse-name pseudonyms. It’s a place where they call these insults their “opinions” – but an insult is not an opinion , it’s just you being an asshole!

  5. Edias Makwangudze says:

    Something about addiction.Some people have become so addicted or drunk by the internet so much that as soon as they are online,they become crazy.They become different people.They become violent,disruptive,abusive,intolerant,stubborn,racist,tribalistic,homophobic,disrespectiful just like some alcoholics or drug addicts we know.They cant express their abusive streak in public simply because they are cowards.They hide behind the safety of their anonimity of the internet.

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