It is not that hopeless, after all!

Once upon a time, there is a promised land where people could come and do whatever they want, or be whoever they wish to be. However, at the time that the rumor about this land was spreading, the access to it was very limited. Yet, in today world, this promised land could easily be entered and left as ease. The land name is The Internet. As more people get access to the Internet, many have found out that: maybe it’s not the promised land after all.

The Internet, when first invented, is thought of as a cyberspace where anonymity could help lift the person out of his/her offline life–and live a happily ever after online one. It is a space that promised equality, a space where offline identity could not be revealed if its owner chose to hide it. Yet, reality has proven that this promise could no longer sustain in today world.

As technology evolves, people have become far more connected than ever before. The distinction between an online and offline identity is getting blurred. Younger generations show an immersion between the two identities. As a result, the bad things, that we try to leave behind before getting to the promised land, are also carried on to this land. That means, now we have racism, homophobia, or bullying. Dr. Lisa Nakamura in the video below outlines a few types of online racism:

The promise of anonymity is no longer sustainable because online users rely on visual indicators (e.g. usernames, avatars, pictures) to tell them how to act online. Moreover, as more individuals have become tech-savvy. They have more knowledge of the web; thus, this knowledge enables them to actually find out people’s offline identities. Cases like the unmasking of Reddit’s Violentacrez or Alaxandra Wallace‘s Asians in the library show that online behaviors lead to real offline consequences.

However, it’s not all that bad. Besides all the negative things, there are good things. Many individuals and organizations are using online outlets to express, and try to spread awareness. For example, It Gets Better project aims to help LGBT individuals to know that they are not alone, and that they should not let themselves being bullied. One interest thing is that in Dr. Lisa Nakamura’s video above; she mentions people actively act out racisms online to bully other individuals. Yet, there are individuals that actually do that to achieve the opposite: spread awareness of the -isms, and voice their opinions on different social issues. An example of this is Canadian native Youtuber Peter Chao. Other famous Youtubers are famous for making social commentaries by acting out different stereotypical traits of their own races (E.g. KevJumba’s Girls are like M&M’s).

What should we do now that even the promised land, where we thought we could escape all the bad feelings for being us, couldn’t shelter us anymore? Well, like I have mentioned in my other blog posts. It all started with education. Teaching someone to read or write is not the hard part. Teaching that individual to love everyone equally without prejudices is the NOT easy one! I will leave my blog post with this:

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4 thoughts on “It is not that hopeless, after all!

  1. T. Fallon

    You know how when people drink too much alcohol and they start giving their true opinions on situations since all their inhibition are gone? That is kind of how I feel about the internet. The internet with its anonymity gives people a place to share their true feelings without fearing consequences. People think they can say whatever they want without repercussion. Obviously, we have learned with recent events like Violentacarez that it really isn’t too difficult to find a person’s real identity if someone really wants to find out. As you mentioned in your posting, the separation between online and offline is no longer really there.

    I have a problem with seeing the internet or cyberspace as a “promise land” as you put it because the same people that make offline life difficult for others are the same ones making life difficult for people online. The same people bullying offline are the same ones bullying people online. The internet doesn’t change the fact that there are cruel people in the world. The internet just works as another platform for people to spread their hatred and cruelty. The same way as other people use the internet as a platform to spread to positive messages. Basically, the internet cannot become a utopia because you can’t eliminate all the negativity from the internet because there will always be negative people.

    Also, the Violentacarez thing drives me crazy. I find it funny that people take it on themselves to play “online cop” and expose the person’s true identity. Who made Adrian Chen captain of morality on the internet? Gawker had no right to do what they did. I actually think it should be illegal for them to do what they did.

    Reply
    1. Hanh M Nguyen Post author

      Hey Trey, I really like your response! I agree with you that the Internet can’t become a utopian like many has hoped. However, there are many that think it has that potential. Especially in countries where freedom of speech is restricted. Although we all know that there is really no “real” freedom of speech; but, like drunk people, the ability to express how one’s feel online really is what makes it potentially a “promise land.”

      In the case of Violentacarez, I do have a mixed feelings about people play “online cops.” When I saw something unpleasant online (e.g. bullying, racist/sexist rants…) I do think to myself that: “you need help to take that ignorance out of you!” I think these people do have good intention (maybe?) but they can’t anticipate that the information they put out there do have real consequences to the people they want to expose. Hopefully, through these examples, people would be more concerned and more careful with what they do and say online.

      Reply
  2. T. Fallon

    Yes, people definitely have to be careful about what they say and do. Although I do not agree with the things Violentacrez did/posted about, I still find the situation ridiculous. Maybe its because I am not easily offended, or maybe its because if something or someone does actually offend me, I avoid that person/situation. Everyone is going to have their own opinions. I just think its ridiculous that because someone was offended that they took action into their own hands. There are alot of things on the internet that people find offensive, should we start exposing everyone? Where is the line drawn?

    Reply
  3. scrowe1

    Hey Hanh! This week’s topic was kind of frustrating/tricky because it deals with freedom of speech/privacy online and acts that should be restricted but are protected. It’s a wonderful Amendment, but one that gets brought up more often than we think online in troubling cases.

    When I was reading the article on Violentacrez I had such a problem with this middle-aged man releasing his stress online at the expense of other individuals. To make the matter worse, the content he was posting about was considered socially unacceptable. Yet because we value our freedom to speak candidly about anything, Reddit protected him and other users like him. I don’t like how that is, he is a vile individual, but I understand the argument. Interesting how he acted when the tables were turned on him.

    Hiding under the blanket of anonymity online is going to be a continuing trend throughout Internet use/culture. We chose freewill as individuals in our society and unfortunately some people just don’t get it. I do believe that when it comes to individuals like Violentacrez who cross the line of social appropriateness, hosting sites must be held at least partially responsible. I’m not saying that Reddit should have ripped the page down and warned authorities. Rather, they should have issued a warning or a cease and desist to the user about his questionable content posts. I do not even think that small step was taken. I feel such an individual’s purpose is one of malice and that thinking is harmful to all other’s who could stumble upon it.

    As we talked in class it was easy to get frustrated when realizing that we greatly value our freedoms yet also have a moral compass telling us what is right and wrong. But just as you mentioned, I choose to cite attempts like It Gets Better, as a reason the Internet can stay free of control.

    Reply

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