I was going to make a video about this, but I just cannot be bothered to be cheery on the internet right now…..or put on makeup….or comb my hair…. heh.
It’s easy to say a word in our day-to-day life and have it leave our lips never to return. Things slip, we are uneducated about a subject or context, we fall back on base instincts, or we’re just too plain ignorant to know any better. Hopefully most of us grow out of the stage that needs/wants to use slurs. Hopefully we raise our awareness about social situations, attitudes, rights, and ideas. Hopefully we recognize our mistakes, apologize if we need to, and move on. Hopefully.
The internet, however, is much less forgiving than the real world. The internet does not forget. It abides. Even if we’ve been really careful about removing things we’ve said in vain or in ignorance, the internet will find a way to ferret that information out and use it against us if it so chooses. The internet can occasionally be incredibly vindictive, manipulative, hurtful, terrifying, and terrorizing….especially if you just so happen to be a woman on the internet. Yes, the internet is a collective. I’m personifying it purposefully.
I have had my share of threats, harassment, slurs, and abuse flung at me in my time on the internet. Most of it, I’m sure, is just empty talk. I’ve never had anything terribly bad happen to me aside from some phone calls from people who didn’t understand that we were not best friends. Thankfully they eventually got the picture. I’m simply not famous on the internet to attract those special kinds of scary: the righteous or the stalkers.
Ms. Laci Green has unfortunately had that sort of harassment for something she said when she was much younger and less informed than she is now. When she was reminded of her words and the video, she apologized very eloquently, removed the content that she could, and rightfully hoped that would be the end of it. This was not the case. She has been inundated with hateful, terrible, horrible messages telling her to kill herself. She has been sent photos of her apartment building and other harassing messages from people. She has since suspended her online activity. She has been silenced.
What makes this sort of harassment, this vigilante justice OK to so many people online? I don’t want to throw the gender card here, but I feel I must. I have not spoken to ONE woman who provides content online who has not received many harassing or threatening messages or comments. It goes much further than “you’re stupid.” This is horrendous behavior that some people online find lulzy or justified because they’re talking to a woman or because that woman has said something “wrong” somewhere in the past.
This harassment is one of the reasons why so much legislation that would eliminate online anonymity. The only way we internet users can slow that freight train of censorship is by living like thinking, feeling human beings rather than vermin swarming over their prey. If we want to be taken seriously, we must elevate our discussions beyond vitriol and torment.
Call me cynical if you like–it’s true, I am–but this picture I saw in my Facebook Feed is so freaking stupid and annoying.
Of course they all terminate the same! They are all based on the word “friend” that terminates in “end.” If you want to make a freaking point saying that “Family” is so important (and it really is, don’t get me wrong), USE SOMETHING THAT ISN’T STUPID. You know what does actually END and doesn’t have END at the end? How about “husband,” “wife,” “lover,” “partner,” and all the rest? FIND A BETTER WAY TO SPREAD YOUR MESSAGE THAT’S MORE CREATIVE AND CLEVER.
I also hate the begs on any post for “click like and share if you agree” bull-pucky. Stop it. Stop it right now! And, no, I will not like your status either.
That said, I like its message, just not it’s slogan…or pic, cuz that thing’s creepy.
I love the internet. I love the information available to anyone with an ISP or smart phone. I love that everyone has the ability to learn anything they want from fairly reliable sources. I love that we can feed our thirst for knowledge fairly quickly and easily. I love that it elevates the under-educated and helps lessen the collective ignorance of the computer-using world.
That said, I have a problem with that ease of knowledge. Because people have such a vast cornucopia at their fingertips, many seem to think that they are now an authority on a multitude of subjects from medicine to world history to the inner workings of the mid-eastern political situations involving religion and law. They also seem to think that they have the inherent right to spout their new-found “knowledge” unto those who have studied in detail and hold degrees in these specific subjects. These internet-authorities think that because they read on wikipedia or other (in their estimation) valid websites, they know better or just as well as people who have devoted years of study at universities or research schools to their disciplines.
There is a vast difference between researched/validated published works and internet documentation even if that website has a stated author. Unless those online documents are expressly backed-up by academic or other scholarly institutions, there is little to no accountability for the accuracy of the claims contained within that website. Most institutions will not accept research papers that have bibliographies filled with internet sources because of both the malleability and the unaccountability of online resources.
Let us also not forget that scholarly study with other students and instructors gives the invaluable asset of outside educated opinion. Peer and doctoral review of ideas and data as well as dissenting opinions in an academic setting (as opposed to an internet one), lends to not only more thorough understanding but a solid basis for critical thought. As precious as internet information is, no Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr argument takes the place of collegiate and higher level discussion and learning.
Not only do academic institutions contain verifiable research and resources. They also teach humility. You may be the cock of the walk in your office, high school, or social media site, but there is always someone smarter than you in college. You will realize that the more you learn, the less you actually know. You do not always have the answers. You are not always right. When that is the case, academia teaches us to accept the criticism, build on our ideas/opinions, and incorporate them into our rhetoric.
Perhaps my opinion is merely elitist, snobby, pompous, pretentious, or any other sort of negative adjective, but despite the fantastic amount of information available to us online, that does not inherently make us an expert, and not always is our opinion valid and in need of sharing.
Many authoritative and scholarly works are indeed available online. Many institutions, researchers, authors, etc. have made their peer-reviewed materials available to the wide audience of the internet. I in no way wish to diminish their importance.
As abortion laws become tighter and tighter as well as more and more likely to be abolished, I was very displeased to read a link from Daily Kos mentioning a new possible Arizona law that would start the life of a fetus at the first day of a woman’s menstruation. I had been hoping that since it was on an extreme Left Wing website that this story was skewed in order to be incendiary, but I was sadly mistaken. It included a link to the Arizona Legislature’s website with a PDF of the law wordage itself. Most of the document contains definitions of what is and is not an abortion, a doctor, a hospital, an abortion facility, and who is entitled to an abortion. Page 8, line 1, however, indicates when the time of conception starts:
4. ”Gestational age” means the age of the unborn child as calculated
from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman.
Basically this law would mean that every single time a woman ovulates, it’s a life. Every single time that egg is not fertilized, it’s a possible abortion. Every cell that leaves the body, therefore, is an abortion. Does this mean a natural miscarriage would indeed become grounds for manslaughter? It has been happened before in regards to alcohol or drug abuse cases. If this law does pass, would this also indicate that ejaculate that does not fertilize an egg is waste of a potential life as well? Would this leave men who masturbate or even have nocturnal emissions liable for criminal proceedings? What of every ovulation, every menstruation that a woman has in her lifetime? The potential for life is so important that each ovum is indeed a baby? Where does the protection of *potential* life end so that we can protect *actual* life?
Many people may think me odd. Well, that’s an understatement of the week since I am very odd, but in this particular instance, I’m more odd than usual. I was one of the few non-atheist people to attend The Reason Rally who did not intend to protest. I actually attended so that I could meet a great many of my friends from Youtube who were attending as well as show to people that Christians can promote secular government, reason, and support their friends who wish to start a movement. I also wanted to prove to some people that Christians could indeed be moderate. More on that later.
I had some reservations about attending in the first place, and I very nearly chickened out. I didn’t really know how large the rally was going to be in the first place, and after I found out some organizers projected around 50,000 people, I almost passed out. I do not do big crowds well. I also didn’t like the idea that I’d be the odd-woman-out in such a large crew. It’s kind of hard to be around so many individuals who think you’re stupid, you know.
The other giant reason I didn’t really know if I wanted to attend is because the whole idea that “reason” is only for atheists and that because someone is atheist, that means they are implicitly much more reasonable than anyone who holds a belief system. Also, the rally touted “atheists, humanists, AND secularists,” but all the propaganda focused on atheists. I know for certain that there are humanists and secularists who are theists, deists, or pantheists, and this exclusion of people who would be very important assets to a secular government hurt the cause. If it were to be a gathering just for atheists, it should have been something like Atheist Assembly, but that’s just not as sexy and degrading to people who don’t think that way, is it? Also, for all the “free thinking” community, why is it that when someone thinks differently from them, they’re stupid, unreasonable, irrational, or indoctrinated?
I found some of the speakers contradictory. One speaker encouraged ridiculing people of faith while the next propositioned that atheists do not ridicule. One speaker joyfully proclaimed that atheists are not racist, sexist, or ever burn books to prove a point, but then Thunderf00t spoke later, and we all know what he’s promoted on his channel. Each speaker gave his/her own blanket statements about the community movement that in fact weakened their argument as a whole.
Reason is not something that people follow with perfection no matter how hard we try. We are not automatons. We have fears, emotions, biases, experiences, and ideas that color our actions in such a way that may make us unreasonable or irrational at times.
I was often in a group of people who babbled on about blanket statements about Christians and how horrible or unreasonable they were, and when these men and women found out I am a Christian, one of two things happened: either their face fell to the floor, and I heard an, “oh,” and saw some uncomfortable shuffling of feet, or they brightened and wished that they could “clone” me. “We need more of you,” they’d say. That’s frightening. Who wants a bunch of weirdo klutzes falling all over the earth? I know I don’t! I like being one of the few ;)
What are atheists? They are people who do not believe there is a god, a higher power, a deity of any sort. That’s it. Other than that, they are people with varying ideas, back grounds, philosophies, moralities, struggles, biases, and interests. The only blanket statement that is true about them is only the label: atheist.