As predicted by Marshall McLuhan, the Internet gave us the capability to communicate within a worldwide perimeter in a few seconds. This led to what he called “global village“, a world made smaller and smaller by our constant and immediate communications.
Because of the low-average price of an Internet connection and the easiness of its use, this global village is populated by many different kind of people. There are young, old, boys, girls, professionals, students, spreading within social media to communicate with each other and discuss about any matter existing within the human mind. Most of the times, these exchanges are occasions to create new bonds and groups, where to socialize giving tips and sharing experiences.
Most of the time.
Unfortunately, hidden behind the wall of safety given by the virtuality and the anonymity of their computers, people too scare to express their waste opinions in real life or people simply looking to spread discord (known as “trolls“) are waiting to find their next victim.
They attack using hard, strong and often rude words, spilled through a lexicon portraying their often low culture and intelligence. They write fast, their brain connected to their thumbs as they tap on their phone, and post. Like this, without thinking for a second about the consequences there might be. They don’t care that – if – somewhere out there someone could be crushed by their words.
In our big global village too often we can find examples of this “acting without thinking” attitude. It’s probably something coming from this condition of perennial virtuality we live in, a condition where we don’t have to confront with what we have done on the web.
This attitude is dangerous on two different levels.
One, most extreme, is when we are so unable to reason in an act-conseguence logic that we end up doing in real life something terrible without thinking. Like these two boys shooting a runner because they were bored. Here I would say that, since we are very very young, something has to be done in our houses and schools to teach to take responsibilities for one’s actions.
More subtle is the second level and that is where we – as social media users – can give our contribute. As we confront with other people on Facebook or Twitter we can act and advance a more ethical communication, starting from the assumption – described by Jeremy Waldron in his The Harm of the Hate Speech – that words can really hurt.
Sometimes we forget that as we speech we, in fact, act. Through language we address our thoughts physically toward others and, doing so, we modify a preexistent condition and, basically, we change something in the world, even just a little.
Yes, in democratic countries we have the liberty of speech, yes, we can have different opinions. But it is always important to remember that EVERYTHING we say (or do) will have its consequences.
It is important that we calibrate our words as we would calibrate operating a machine because, through them, we can decide what we want to leave of ourselves.
So, if you want to use your words to be an asshole, go ahead. But, please, read them again before posting: there is nothing worse than those commenting their own posts saying “I didn’t mean that!”.