(originally published July 6, 2009)
The good, the bad, and the ugly....
That was the title of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western (I loved all of them), but in this case, I'm referring to the Internet, but in the same way that I would refer to guns or electricity. Do you think I've blown a mental fuse? No. Here's my outlook:
Right now, the governments of China and Iran are working ceaselessly to block web access to its populace. Why? So information the government "does not want you to know about" won't get in, and the truth of what is going on inside these totalitarian regimes will not get out.
Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and their ilk have revealed the atrocities against the people of Iran protesting the sham presidential elections. Beatings and murders have been viewed around the world, as people have had the courage to use cell phones and such to take the governmentally prohibited pictures.
This, obviously, is a case of calling the Internet GOOD.
On the other hand, we have people in the United States of America (where communication is completely open, some say to an unfettered fault) using the Internet for pornography.
This, obviously, is a case of calling the Internet BAD.
Internet sites have been used to defame and harass people. Internet sites are being used to "publish" speculation, opinion, and downright meanness as "fact." Internet sites have been used to troll for victims in order to rob, rape, and murder. Internet sites have been used to incite violence, threaten, and frighten.
This, obviously, is a case of calling the Internet UGLY.
Electricity and guns can be thought of in the same way: you can get electrocuted by dropping a hair dryer in the tub when you're in it, or electricity can be used to run a ventilator and save lives. Guns can be used in robberies and murders, or they can be used by the free to ward off tyranny and other assailants.
Objects have no moral value - the way they are used is the issue - and that assessment is in the hands of the user. We all have the ability to choose right from wrong. Our choices, though, generally depend greatly on the human atmosphere around us. For example, we are more likely to be able to do atrocious things if we're part of a group. We wouldn't dream of doing them alone. Yet, there are those who can perpetrate evil all on their own.
We are more likely to choose good when we are surrounded by people supportive of "good," and judgmental of "bad." However, when the cultural atmosphere dissipates with respect to values and moral judgment, it's easy for an individual to operate out of the moment without regard to circumstances or their soul.
It takes a strong person to choose good for its own sake. There is often little reward or regard given to them. There was a time when a child, seeing a dollar fall from an elderly gentleman's pocket, would race to give it back to him. He would then get his picture on the front page of the local paper - rewarding him for character. Now, that same child would probably not even entertain the thought of returning the money. What for? Look around that child - parents cheat, politicians cheat, entertainers and sports stars cheat. What's the motivation?
The good, the bad, and the ugly - two out of three are on the wrong side. You choose every day which side to be on. Now, go do the right thing.