Columnist Diane Dimond argues the Internet is turning us into sociopaths. As an Internet lawyer and online marketer, I disagree.
She wrote, “With our computer anonymity, many of us have decided we can ‘say’ things over the World Wide Web that we would never, ever say to someone’s face. Cruel comments can be lobbed without personal risk, so we send them out like invisible hand grenades, set to explode when opened.”
Dimond points to cases like the gay college student who committed suicide after his roommate used a web cam to post video of the student online making out with another male. And that case certainly isn’t unique. Think of the family who gets emails with pictures of their daughter’s decapitated body in a car wreck because some jackass leaked the photos onto the Internet.
Yet it isn’t a case of the Internet turning people into sociopaths. Instead, you see sick and twisted individuals using the Internet as another weapon to inflict pain on others. Being anonymous makes it easy. It’s easy to get into a flame war online with these types…and that’s a losing proposition because they thrive on it. You lose a little part of yourself when you tread in their world of irrationality.
Yes, feel free to criticize unacceptable business and marketing practices online. That’s different than crossing the line into a personal war designed to destroy the individual.
This isn’t theoretical. A little over 20 years ago, I got involved in one of these battles that descended into the personal. Pre-Web, before I became an Internet lawyer, I used a different media to “win.” What was written was newsworthy (front page newspaper article) and the conduct exposed was disgusting.
But the damage the article inflicted on that person I’ve regretted ever since. The behavior could have been condemned without making it personal.
To your online success!
-Mike the Internet lawyer
P.S. To help protect yourself online, get your free website owner privacy and personal safety report.