I’m worried about what people do on the internet. Not because the internet is for porn. Porn is fun, if it’s made by consenting adults. What I’m worried about is that the internet seems to be for trolls.
I’m talking about the toxic language of comments on youtube and of tweets. The rules of basic human decency simply do not seem to apply. The other day, the woman who won Wimbledon was called all kinds of nasty things on twitter because some people don’t think she’s pretty. People tweeted things I’m sure they would never dare to say out loud, directly @ a woman who has just demonstrated that she’s a top-athlete. What is this thing about sitting safely behind a computer that makes people feel entitled to say unacceptable things like that?
You all know I love to play MMORPGs. I was online in such a game the other day when the chat channel turned ugly. Someone made a bunch of nasty remarks, including a rape joke, about people who could not play the game very well. And I raised my voice asking: “Is it acceptable to be mean to someone with inferior skills? Does that entitle you to call them names and make fun of them?” and I was met with crickets, blank stares and three smug “Yes, of course!” answers.
This is why I recently signed the Gamers against Bigotry pledge and I’m a little disappointed at the small number of other who have done the same. People need to become more aware that the internet is a community made up of people, people whose feelings can be hurt, and who deserve to be treated with respect.
I’m going to leave you with Jimmy Kimmel, who is trying to show us that the mean things people say on twitter do have impact, by showing us celebrities reading what people tweet about them.