Have You No Shame? The Internet Does


Kevin Chiang, Photojournalist

Let’s admit it, we all make mistakes, even though some would be inclined to disagree. Now, normal people can act like adults; that is, we can eventually make up and forget about it. That being said, the internet is not a normal person. Ignoring the fact that the internet is not a person, one could say it is like an elephant: it never forgets. It will never forgive, either. The things the internet has done to people’s lives and livelihood are as great as they are horrific.

Victor Paul Alvarez made a crude joke about John Bohener. The internet burned this joker, leaving him fired. Even though he apologized, he’s still seeking full-time employment.

Adam Mark Smith was rude to a Chik-Fil-A employee. He moved cities.

Justine Sacco? A joke about AIDs. Now unemployed.

And many, many more. Too many to count. Now, I think we can all agree that those were really, really dumb moves. Posting a picture of being rude at Arlington National Cemetery? Yeah, expect imminent harsh backlash. Applying homosexuality to a boy band star’s death? Good luck. Yet, while the internet feels that it is free to criticize those who don’t agree with publicly held views (and takes every opportunity to prove so), it forgets that everyone makes mistakes. The only reason it’s so bad now is because of changes in technology. In the olden days of 50 years ago, telling a bad joke or doing something offensive would get you some disapproving looks from people around you. Now, the whole world acts as judge, jury, and executioner, with images and video of your transgression as evidence. Used to be, you could move if things got too bad; you could leave the growing hate and flee to relative safety. Now, good luck finding an employer who hasn’t heard of the internet.

This might be related to kids in a schoolyard. An average kid, not too low or too high on the social ladder, says one bad thing. Suddenly, everyone, from those perched at the top rung to those clinging at the bottom step, are joined in humiliating this one fool. This fool is now below the ladder. His presence causes everyone else to feel better about them. That is what the internet does. It provides a playground, where everyone can feel a little bit better by putting down the person who screwed up.

This sort of retribution is entirely undeserved. While it can be difficult to think with the righteous justice of social mores pounding in your ears, it’s important to think and remember if what you’re doing is appropriate. Sure, he shouldn’t have made fun of the blind man, but should you send him a death threat? Senior Connie Huang (12) believes the internet “does cause overreactions because you don’t know the whole story.” She continues, “I think the internet should forgive and forget if something is not as big a deal as people are making it out to be.” The internet is the biggest technological, social, and cultural advancement humanity has made. Don’t let it become a moralizing hate board.