There are days when I’d like to rewind the clock to 1978, find the guy or guys responsible for creating the Internet, sit them down, and convince them that it’s a very bad idea and that maybe they should keep it to themselves. I believe that the Internet is the greatest source of stress in the world today, and that the world would be a better place without it.
Well, not the whole Internet. Just maybe the biggest piece of it: social media. I’m not even sure that social media is the biggest piece of it, but it’s the part that grabs all the headlines and everybody seems to talk about it. And it’s the part that causes the most stress.
Time was, if you wanted to call someone an @$$hole, you had to tell him to his face, send him a letter, or call him on the telephone. Telling him to his face might get your teeth knocked out, sending him a letter meant you needed a stamp, and calling him on the phone cost a dime (or whatever the going rate for a station-to-station call was at the time). And if you called or wrote, there was a good chance that he’d find you and knock your teeth out.
Now, all you have to do is get on Facebook or Twitter and do it. In fact, you don’t even need to know the person: you can call a complete stranger an @$$hole and get away with it. Sure, if you know them, they might find you and knock your teeth out, but what are the chances if you’ve never met the person face-to-face? So now, you have a medium where you can call complete strangers names with impunity. Best they can do is call you one back, and you’re even. You can block them, sure, but they can always come up with a different user name to torment you anew.
Seriously, there are people whose whole life consists of getting on social media and tormenting others. That’s what they do for fun.
But it’s not just Facebook and Twitter: it’s anywhere you can make comments. And it’s been going on for years. Remember LISTSERV? Message boards? IRC? I wrote someone and asked him to stop spamming me, he threatened to sue me, claimed he wasn’t spamming me, just sending me unsolicited commercial email (which, by the way, is spam). We went back and forth all day, until finally I wrote and said I was sorry, thinking that would end it. It didn’t. I then realized that I was dealing with some liver-lipped moron who got his jollies by starting fights over email with complete strangers and creating stress for them.
Come to think of it, maybe the whole thing is evil and must be destroyed.