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: