Opinion Column

Internet continues to bring out the worst of us 

By Josh Aldrich, Camrose Canadian

FOTOLIA

FOTOLIA

For as many good things as the internet has brought to the world, far too often it exposes the worst of people. 

 

This is no surprise. As humans we rarely let an opportunity roll by to undercut the species. Yes, there are legitimately good people in the world, and I like to believe they are in the majority. But there is always someone or a group of people that ready to throw a hand grenade into the whole mix. 

As Jeff Foxworthy joked back in the '90s, we just can't have nice things. 

It often does not take much of an opening for someone to showcase just how terrible they can be. 

The latest example occurred as the result of a hockey game last week. 

Edmonton Oilers hulking winger Patrick Maroon clipped Los Angeles Kings defenceman with a head shot — an infraction he was suspended two games for — and given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. L.A. scored three times on the ensuing power play. Instead of soaking one's sorrows in a pint or three, a faction of Oilers fans took it upon themselves to track down Maroon's girlfriend online and allegedly proceed to threaten her and their family. 

"I am so sad that there is people out there who can be so cruel," said Francesca Vangel in a post on Twitter. "I've never seen so much hatred over something that was completely unintentional." 

Again, a hockey game involving millionaires in a lost season, something that has zero tangible effect on anyone's life. That is worth wishing harm on a family. Apparently. 

It boggles the mind. 

This follows on the heels of one of the biggest Youtubers in the world, Logan Paul travelling to Aokigahara, a forest at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan, that has the unfortunate and well-earned nickname as Suicide Forest. Because of this there are many ghost stories and other legends surrounding the site. 

Paul went there with a camera crew looking for bodies, he found one, filmed it, laughed at it cracked jokes about it and posted it online. It was all under the supposed guise about raising awareness about suicide prevention. The video gained millions of views before he was forced to take it down. At first he issued a half apology and defence of the video on Instagram before finally issuing a second video apology the next day where he asks his fans to not defend his vlog, seeming finally understanding the line he crossed. 

This is not a big picture issue either, this happens in our own back yard. Spend some time scrolling through Facebook and it doesn't take much to find people tearing down each other and singling out different businesses, sometimes dancing on the grave of businesses that have gone under. 

It is, at times, appalling. 

You want to be disgusted by your fellow man, go check the comment section under any political story put out by CBC or the Edmonton Journal or CTV. The vitriol is out of control. 

It is beyond the point of If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all. 

I am thankful social media was not a thing when I was growing up, I do not know how I would handle being connected 24/7 and not being able to escape the cyber bullying which is more prevalent today than it has ever been. 

It's as if people think that the existence of a keyboard or a smartphone means they should not have to filter their thoughts anymore. If people said half the things publicly that they seemingly have no problem posting publicly I firmly believe violent crimes would be a lot higher. 

It is a sad commentary on our society as a whole. 

The positive I try to pull out of these two recent instances is the way the civilized world responded. 

In the case of Vangel, the support for her and Maroon was immediate and the keyboard warriors quickly denounced. Paul, meanwhile, has gone on hiatus, chased from the medium that makes him a reported $800,000 a month by being a well-rounded jackass. 

While this gives me hope for the world, being a decent person should not require societal pressure. However, as we turn evermore inward to our technology, we become more isolated in our own echo chambers and the idea of a broader world gets lost in the world wide web. 

 

jaldrich@postmedia.com 

 



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