Freedom of speech can come at a high price online
Dear American folks on the Internet: Please watch what you say, do or post online. You may have a right to say what you want, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come back and bite you in the ass.
It seems that people have recently been getting their anonymous online lives mixed up with their real ones. People don’t realize how easy it is for something you do online to come back and haunt you. Once things are there, they don’t go away. Even if deleted, things will pop up again elsewhere.
If you choose to contribute to this cesspool of information, don’t make a blog to whine about your students (with your real name posted), duN tAlK Lyk dis if U wAnT a JoB, don’t post your personal information and complain about others being able to see it, don’t upload a picture and wonder how it became a meme, don’t complain about your boss and job and then wonder why you got fired. The list goes on.
No matter how much time I spend on the Web or surfing the taint of the Internet, I find that people (mostly Americans) never cease to disappoint me. This especially came to my attention after the news about Osama bin Laden’s death.
Everywhere I turned, I saw ignorant and racist remarks (one comment I saw asked if Muslims were upset about losing their “leader”), reposted fake quotes (such as the bogus MLK Jr. quote against celebrating death), general stupidity and sickening hatred (such as “Osama down, Obama’s next”). I am used to the Internet being fairly heartless, but with what I’ve seen coming from people that I know in person, it would be easier to spend my time on shock sites.
I understand that people are just flexing their First Amendment rights, but I really hope that they are ready for any sort of consequences that might arise from their actions. The Internet has an uncanny ability to make anyone feel anonymous online, and yet everyone seems to try and take things personally. Even if you say something as a joke, it can be taken seriously. Consequences can come from stupid word choices, loose lips and trigger-happy cameras.
The online world is fairly unregulated, and people should at least be able to regulate themselves. However, I think I may also be asking too much from the world.
Megan Myer/Online editor
Megan Meyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.