|Porträt des Francisco de Goya – Vicente López Y Portaña|
The Internet has opened up many new avenues for people to express their opinions. It has empowered the crowd, it has emboldened the masses, it has allowed just about anyone with an Internet connection to fire up their computer and start telling the world what they think.
It also allows people to be a jerk.
We all know that people are willing to say things to others on the Internet they would never, ever say in real life. Especially anonymously. I mean, what is the other person going to do, punch them through the computer screen?
But here’s the thing about being a jerk on the Internet. While jerks can say things on the Internet without fear of reprisals and without batting an eyelash, the other person on the end of a barb feels it just as real as if they had heard it in real life. In some ways it hurts even more, because it feels like someone is expressing their real, unvarnished opinions.
Call it the corollary of Internet jerkdom. Every jerk action can have a vastly disproportionate and wounding reaction.
How do you know if you’re being a jerk? Let me help.
- If you call someone a name on the Internet you’re not getting something off your chest, you’re being a jerk.
- If you call a book a piece of trash on the Internet, you’re not
expressing an opinion, you’re being a jerk. Someone wrote that book, and
there are better ways to express yourself.
- If you mock and belittle someone who has done something wrong you’re not helping them learn from their mistakes, you’re being a jerk.
- If you’re knocking someone down to make yourself feel better you are absolutely being a jerk.
- If you’re knocking someone down period you’re being a jerk.
We’ve all got to live together on this thing called the Internet, and last I heard they’re not kicking people off the cyberspace island. Behind every faceless avatar and screenname is a living, breathing human who you can seriously damage with your words.
So don’t be a jerk.