Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.
Voltaire, Essay on Tolerance
For all its flaws and all its magnificent capabilities, the Internet has given us a powerful forum….one that we all need to learn how to use. Like any tool, it can be used for great good….but it can be used equally well to destroy.
Do we believe everything we see on the Internet?Â I hope not. There’s a LOT of trash out there…and a lot of outdated information that can be misinterpreted as current if we aren’t diligent.
The beauty is that we can be selective. We can delete or ignore anything we choose. Our mouse is our friend in these cases.
That being said, theÂ Internet hasÂ given us a vehicle where we can shareÂ ideas and ultimately learn how to become vastly more tolerant. It’s given us a resource where we can learn from each other and teach each other.Â It’s the most effective tool I’ve found for bring thinking people together in dialogue. Like theÂ telephone, it allows us to talk directly with others that we might not be able to meet face to face andÂ allows us to talk openly. Internet takes communicationÂ one step further and allows entire groups of people to participate. This is a good thing.
That’s the original intent of the Internet – it was used by universities and agencies to share information and work cooperatively. But then marketing joined the fray…Now, too much of the Internet is based on in-your-face sales and marketing messages delivered to us – much of it delivered by autoresponders set up to bombard usÂ with information that really doesn’t make much sense.
We’ve become a society of promoters, I fear. Worse, too often, the promotions areÂ automated, mass produced and delivered to us because we’ve been identified by some machine and put on a list of warm bodies which might beÂ influenced to buy with very little concern about how it impacts us.
Here’s an example. I welcome comments on this Blog. I don’t expect agreement with everything I say. And I’m open to discussing differences of opinion. The same is true of some forums I have established. To date, I’ve had to delete countless dozens of submitted comments. Why? Certainly not because they don’t agree or criticize me. The comments I delete have ALL fallen into two categories:
1. Self-serving promotional links to other links that offer — not information but links to products and services
2. Links to porn or other unsavory sites. (In fact I shut down one forum because it was being spammed by these kinds of links.)
Now, I’m serving notice. I will not tolerate either of these kinds of comments. I check them — and delete every one of them. But, if you are able and willing to share meaningful information – whether you agree or disagree with what you read here -and if you are capable of meaningful dialogueÂ I welcome you with open arms.
This issue with inappropriate “comments” is just a symptom of a very serious problem, though. I’m beginning toÂ think that we need an education on how to communicate.
I’ve noted in recent years a serious deterioration of our ability to get together in any forum and talk with each other. We’ve lost somewhere the ability to agree to disagree. Have we really becomeÂ a societyÂ of people willing to let media, power groups and other individuals dictate what we should believe, how we should think and what isÂ appropriate behavior. It would appear that we’veÂ become a society that demands conformity with whatever the current trend mightÂ and accepts each new trend without even questioningÂ its validity or usefulness. I hope not!
We’ve become comfortable letting others think for us. And forgotten the practices of live and let live, agreeing to disagree and sharing ideas.Â We’ve stopped challenging whatever the current “establishment” dictates whether it be our politicians, media or even our local communities. This is extremely dangerous. We’ve been giving our power away.
But there’s hope! The Internet is the oneÂ vehicle that allows us to take our power back. We can step back and stop thinking of ourselves as promoters on a mission to dictate to others. We can talk person to person, really it’s possible. That’s what humanity is all about, after all, talkingÂ and working with each other for a common good…even when it means agreeing to disagree.Â