Blowing up the Internet!

That was actually a thought proposed by a friend of mine.  She’s kidding, of course.  At least, I hope!

Actually I’m sure she is, because otherwise her cleverly nostalgic and culturally insightful “old news” feed would disappear.  Besides, I don’t think she means for me to get fired from a job that I just took (again, I hope so).  And let’s remember there’s a lot of value in the virtual world, too.

But her rage is real.  And it’s not just hers to express.  That sort of outcry is a typical reaction to the proliferation of negative comments on any variety of subjects on the web.

Sadly, the nay-sayers are in the vast majority.  Some might think it’s actually presidential policy, if not just practice.  These days, it seems, being snarky online is a digital sport.  One current example:  the race to see who can be the top reply to a Trump tweet.  And you can bet the reply won’t be kind.

Disinhibition is certainly a defect of the digital world.   Bullying trolls wander the web with virtual ease.  But while the technology makes it possible and easy, it’s still a matter of morality.  Hating for fun is hardly a worthy fellowship.

What is one to do, especially since blowing up the Internet is neither plausible nor possible?  Even were it so, it would not be prudent.  It’s the world we live in, the social realm of work and play, the connective tissue that links people the world over.

If it’s a movement you want, perhaps turning George Orwell’s famous “Two Minutes Hate” (from 1984) into two minutes of love could be the new rallying cry.  In the Twitter world, it could work even with just two sentences.

If it’s a routine you’d like to adopt, try following this sage advice from the same friend who opined about sending the Internet into oblivion.  Instead of responding immediately with outrage to an undesirable headline, she writes, take a minute or more to consider (1) how does this make sense and (2) where did the post come from.  Those two answers will likely calm the calamitous comment one is tempted to post.

If it’s inspiration you seek, consider again the words of Pope Francis in his first ever message for the World Day of Communications, when he raised up the Good Samaritan as an example for all citizens of the digital world to follow:  “Let our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts.  May the light we bring to others not be the result of cosmetics or special effects, but rather of our being loving and merciful ‘neighbours’ to those wounded and left on the side of the road.”

Or, we can keep it simple.  Just remember that there’s always someone (actually many) on the other end of whatever your post, a reader who knows you only by the words you use.  So, try being nice!

It can be done … and the rest of us would certainly appreciate it.


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