Look, there’s no clever way to SEO this title to get my message across: social responsibility on the Internet begins at home. There’s no way for me to make sure that people are going to get this by inputting something into Google by using specific words. In fact, if I were to actually use the words I wanted to in order to make the title of this article, I doubt my boss would ever, ever let it be posted. In fact, if you’re faint of heart or sensitive like a good amount of humans are, I suggest you just don’t read this. I know, I’m polarizing, but, well…
I’m getting angry. I’m angry about the lack of social responsibility displayed by people on the Internet. I’m angry that the problem doesn’t seem to be easily resolved. I’m angry that the blame for social responsibility on the Internet doesn’t get placed on people who could make a difference — such as parents.
Social Responsibility in the Age of the Casual Sociopath
Recently, someone on my Twitter feed posted an image of a human being, in the dark, slumped over on the sidewalk. The man looked unresponsive and wasn’t even naturally resting as if he was just passed out drunk. No, he looked to be in distress and instead of posting something that seemed concerned, worried, perhaps even panicked — the OP mocked it. He took a damn picture of it, hashtagged it and went about his day. Two people retweeted it. Eight people? Eight people favorited the picture and post of a guy who is presumed dead.
What in the bloody hell has happened to us and our collective sense of social responsibility?
It gets worse, however, and what follows is a couple of people stating these delightful things. I warn you, they’re not pleasant.
Who’s to Blame When Social Responsibility is Eschewed on the Internet?
For those of you wanting to know why I blurred out the names and faces of these people, it’s because I know how the Internet works when people become upset and outraged. While this kid, who is well known on YouTube and has a little over 8,000 followers on Twitter, has severely shown disrespect and disregard, I don’t think he should be burned at the stake. This lack of social responsibility isn’t about him, but it is painting a picture with very fine and broad strokes of all colors because we got us here.
These two people responded and, instead of concern and shock, one wanted the user to urinate on the body. The body that, in all likelihood, is a dead one. The second, which I’d like to make note of (not that it’s remotely important but it’s certainly interesting) is from a female telling the user to perhaps scare the person who she thinks might be sleeping into thinking they were raped.
Yes, raped. “It will be so great.” she says, because how funny would it be to leave someone in the street, waking up confused and obviously in distress, to give them something else to possibly be concerned with. Rape.
Social Responsibility and Modern Youth
I’m becoming disgusted, more and more, with where youth is taking social media. I know this makes me sound half like a concerned citizen and an adult, but the other half makes me sound like an old woman, shaking a rake and telling kids to get off my lawn. We need to become more proactive about social responsibility because our youth is losing its humanity at a rate that is downright fucking terrifying.
When you stop upon seeing a human being on the ground like that and your first thought is to take a picture and not check on the person’s well being, something is wrong with your compass of social responsibility. It’s not okay. It’s not okay if they are homeless and you’re taking pictures. It’s not okay if they’re drunk and you’re taking pictures. None of that is okay because you are exploiting and mocking someone who is not in a good state. However, when you have a feeling they’re dead? When you think someone is dead and you take pictures? You’re a damned sociopath.
Awareness of Social Responsibility Shrinks and Shrinks
This isn’t new and this isn’t something that has just begun. More and more, we’re cheering on the start of this social media irresponsibility where we can say whatever the hell we want, we can harass and threaten, and if we don’t stand for it, we get told “Welcome to the Internet.” No, that’s not okay. We should not and cannot condone this kind of psychotic behavior because of the anonymous faces and thousands of miles between the offenders and ourselves.
Social media companies are becoming far more conscious of these things and Facebook has started blocking and removing any posts that deal with rape, sexual assault of any kind, and anything that celebrates hate towards a group, minority, or human being in a threatening manner. Some call it a threat to our amendment to free speech in America and I consider those people to be heartless flag-wavers who don’t understand that we were human beings long before we were countrymen. Personally, I would like to see Twitter and other social media platforms take this same stance and start watching for things of this nature and offering probationary periods for those who cannot handle social media responsibly.
Social Responsibility Should Be the Norm, Not the Exception
We can’t keep allowing this kind of thing to continue because our children are going to see what is the “norm” with this crass, irresponsible behavior and they will emulate it because it is learned behavior. As a parent, I can’t allow that. I can’t. I will protect and do my child a service in any way I can to keep her from being an Internet sociopath. If that means I need to make videos that teach young kids how to use Facebook and Twitter and how to get their feelings out without utilizing these means and what not to do on these forums, so be it. I’ll take that on. Something needs to happen.
Because we’re going down fast.
Social Responsibility and Social Media
What do you think about the state of social media and what it means to us as human beings? Are we desensitized daily due to constant streaming information? Are we forever trapped in the evolution of this form of mass media? Do you think being proactive with teaching children and teenagers how to interact on the Internet can curb the onslaught of inappropriate and inhumane gut responses? Where do you think this is headed? I’m fascinated to find out your thoughts. If anything, I want this to be a conversation piece to start a dialogue where we approach a problem that is standing on our doorstep. We started the Internet; we need to take it back and stop accepting this kind of behavior for us, for them, and for the future of all those who use it for what it’s intended to be: a wealth of possibility, expression, and connection.
(Images both taken from author’s feed and header image was purchased from 123rf.com)