The internet has given us a lot over it’s short life span, from changing how we are able to research topics that were once limited to what you could find in the drawers of your local library’s card catalog or migraine-inducing microfiche (if you don’t know what that is, be thankful) to being able to type in the words “70s Hairy Muff Porn” and finding just what you need (rather than having to search it out physically like a perverted Indiana Jones).
Unfortunately, with all that access and information comes a darker side as well, one that allows for people to say and be as awful as they want without the fear of retaliation.
When situations like Ferguson, MO break we all have about five seconds to take sides online before the worst inside of us comes frothing out. The fight between reason and racism begins the moment the first person comments on a story and it escalates from there, sometimes to the point where the violence of online spills over into real life (like in the case of #gamergate).
But where does all of this need to be vitriolic come from? Sure, some of it is learned at the knees of our parents, but inherently, when we reach puberty, the desire to rebel from the values, rules and social norms of our mom and dad helps to shape our individual identities. We make the choice the see others as different or as similar to ourselves just as we make the choice to be an asshole or a nice person. While we may have an immediate reaction to another individual (a prejudice) we still have the ability to not act on it (bigotry and discrimination).
For a fascinating look at the whys, hows and what the fucks behind the concepts that seem to be exploding all over the place, watch Hank Green break down the learning after the break.
And if you enjoy what you watch, pass it forward to some of your friends and family members…who knows maybe they might learn something as well (or, better yet, let this link be your comment to any online assholery).