The Dehumanization of the Internet

I love technology. I’ve always been drawn to it, even as a kid, and especially as a teen, when the Internet was just becoming widely available.  We got our first computer with Internet (and Windows 95!) when I was a senior in high school, and before that I had spent a LOT of time on a Windows 3.1 computer at school and a word processor (gasp!) at home.  In college – as an INFJ – I enjoyed spending time in chat rooms (the good ones, the ones where you met people with similar interests and were able to have real and honest conversations with people you just knew you would get along well with in real life) and breaking into the world of blogging.

And obviously, over the past 15 years, technology has multiplied exponentially.  As we speak, my 1st grader is learning word families by watching videos on a Roku channel.  It’s pretty amazing, and I’m still pretty much in love with technology and all that we can achieve through it.

However, there’s one thing I’ve noticed getting steadily worse over the last several years, and significantly worse over the past couple of years, in relation to the use of what I would say is the most common household technology: the Internet.

The Internet is a gateway to all kinds of knowledge and information.  It allows us to connect with others, thousands and even millions of others, all over the planet, as close to or as far from us as we like.

But the Internet also disconnects us from others.  It allows us to see each other as some disembodied name on the other side of the computer screen, rather than as another human being.  More and more often, as I log onto websites and read articles and blog posts and the comments that follow, I see people treating each other as lesser beings than themselves.  When someone disagrees on something, the response is to call names, use vulgar terms and bad language, often becoming erratic and just plain ugly.

Come to think of it, this doesn’t seem to stop at the computer screen lately.  It’s just much easier to do over the Internet, even for people who would never treat another that way in person.

Why is something as simple as disagreement so often met with hate?  What happened to “agree to disagree”?  When did we forget that people have a body, heart, soul, spirit, and mind?  When did we stop seeing other people as ourselves and vice versa?  Where did “treat people the way you’d like to be treated” go?  I see a lot of pleas to end the hate, to remember that disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean you hate them, and to show love to others.  I agree with all of these.

But I think they need to start at a much deeper level than just “change the behavior.”  If the way we view people doesn’t change, the way we treat them never will.

 

6 comments for “The Dehumanization of the Internet

  1. September 9, 2015 at 8:43 am

    What I hear and read here on the internet sometimes is absolutely appalling. It’s my pet impossible mission, right up there with ending world hunger and wiping out child abuse to find a way to make people realize that what they say and do here online has lasting, sometimes tragic effects on others. As with everything else, start small and hopefully help many.
    Great post, Leigh. 🙂

    • September 9, 2015 at 8:49 am

      Same here! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • September 9, 2015 at 8:51 am

        I’ve shared this everywhere – hopefully more people will read it!!

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