I love the Internet.
I love that I am Facebook friends with practically every person I've ever known. Love that, with a click of the "Publish" button, I can share my life here at Life With Bellymonster with family across the pond or friends just across town.
Twitter just plain delights me and I have spent many a happy hour on Pinterest, dreaming and repinning pictures or sayings or recipes that catch my eye and my fancy.
I love the immediacy of email and the weird freedom that comes from sharing thoughts through the computer instead of face-to-face. Sometimes it's just easier, even for a person like me, who will talk to anyone, anytime.
But sometimes, even I wonder if what we've created isn't entirely good or wise.
The news today is full of Amanda Todd, a young B.C. girl who was bullied to death, via the Internet. She posted about her deepest pain via YouTube just weeks ago and earlier this week, undone by vicious words and actions of strangers, she committed suicide.
My heart aches for her parents and others who loved her. My heart aches for the thousands of other children whose self-esteem and sense of worth and safety lessen every day at the hands of faceless, nameless strangers (or enemies disguised as friends) at the other end of a keyboard.
At the other end of things, a Canadian mother named Jessica Stilwell has brought the ire of an entire nation down onto her head, in less than a dozen posts on a newly-created blog: Crazy Working Mom: Diary of a Mother on the Brink of Snapping.
Discouraged by her family's refusal to pitch in to keep up with the housework, she gave up the picking up and (encouraged by family and friends on Facebook) blogged about the ensuing chaos. Written with humour and heart, Jessica's story is honest and real and messy and gosh darn it, people, going on strike from domestic drudgery is something I've wished to do myself, from time to time.
Haven't we all?
Needless to say, I was shocked and dismayed to discover that so many people, smugly seated at desks or laptops the world over, can do little more than criticize her actions, her marriage, her parenting, her intelligence, her life. Most commenters, it seems, have nothing nice to say at all.
And therein lies the rub.
Seems to me that, as time passes, more and more people log on to news feeds simply to spew venom and pass along hatred. And, it seems to me, more and more people will have their voices silenced - some, like Amanda Todd, forever - because a virtual stranger typed before s/he thought
What are we becoming, as a social media society? Is THIS what it's all about? Tearing down our mothers, our daughters for sharing themselves with us? Does it make those who rip into a stranger feel bigger, wiser, stronger, better when they do? Do those who write things like, "She did it to herself!" or "Sorry, but it's all your own stupid fault!" truly believe that and if so, WHY?
Why do you think it's OK to blast a young girl or a middle-aged mother or a troubled boy or a lonely man for sharing their truth? When did we all become virtual judges and when, pray tell, did we get so damned mean about it?
And finally, why would you choose to hurt with words - typed, spoken, hurled, sung - instead of heal?
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