Are people getting more vicious, or is it just that we’re more exposed to others’ opinions, good and bad, thanks to today’s tech-obsessed world? With Twitter and Facebook, everyone is an expert, everyone has an opinion, and everyone is outspoken. People think nothing off saying things online that 10, or even 5, years ago would have been uttered only in private company.
Sadly, many of those things that are negative rants, personal attacks, and distasteful jokes. It takes just a second to tweet the first nasty thought that pops into our head, and because of that we’re careless and indiscreet. We’re creating a social atmosphere polluted with negativity.
I’m thinking of the awful sexual assault on journalist Lara Logan in Egypt last week. While the general reaction was horror and sympathy, NYU fellow Nir Rosen seized the moment to tweet that Logan was a “warmonger” and trying to upstage CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who was also injured, albeit to a much less serious degree, while reporting in Egypt. Rosen’s comment sparked outrage and he was forced to resign.
It’s absolutely fine to have a dissenting opinion. But our society loses civility when, instead of expressing our opinions in a civilized debate, we act like attack dogs hiding behind the anonymity the Internet provides. Pouncing on a tragedy—whether here or abroad—is heartless, and can only lead to trouble. Remember that nothing on the Internet is truly private. If you wouldn’t say something in person, don’t say it online. It will come back to haunt you.
Remember: Think before you tweet!