I haven't been a very happy online camper this week, as you can probably tell. When I first took over Tech Tuesdays here, I posted reasons why I love the internet - and those still hold true.
Just like real life, though, it only takes a few asshats to ruin things.
This is not a new phenomenon by any stretch, but in all my years on the World Wide Web thus far, I still can't figure out the logic. Why do people complain about content that doesn't hurt anyone directly and can be easily ignored by hitting the 'back' button?
Yes, I would fully support taking down websites that spew specific hate toward another race, gender, religion and anything else I forgot. Right and left-wing nutjobs alike, cults, Neo-Nazi groups; I understand they have a constitutional right to exist but I morally object to their hate-filled undermining of humanity as a whole. They, however, get to exist. They hire lawyers and scream about their first amendment rights to free speech and the ACLU steps to their defense.
Regular folks, like a friend of mine on Facebook, post tasteful pictures of body art and get banned.
Believe me, I understand how one can innocently be looking for one thing and find something he/she did not intend. Time was, if you googled the words "American Flag" you actually got all sorts of links to pictures of nude women posing with the flag. Google has improved their algorithms, but on places like Facebook or YouTube, you might not get so lucky. I won't even let my daughter watch videos of cartoons and kid stuff on YouTube without supervision. Have you *seen* some of the videos that pop-up if you are watching "Lazy Town"?!
Truth is, though, we have choices. In fact, here in our own spaces with our own computers, phones, netbooks, e-readers, etc - we have all the power.
Find a site you don't like? Accidentally see a picture or read some information that wasn't what you thought it would be?
Congratulations! Welcome to the web. Now, hit the back button and go somewhere else.
Don't get me wrong - there are definite lines that should not be crossed like the since-deleted Facebook page promoting "Trayvonning". If it crosses a line of hurting someone - in this case, I would say his parents absolutely, positively did not deserve that - then it needs to go. Period.
But I think in our frankly misguided efforts to 'make the world a better place', some people take it way too far. I'm all for cute cats and pictures of bunnies - but there are lots of people who just frankly will never be entirely fluffly and cuddly. I'm one of those people. I like sarcastic, dark humor. I like Goth stuff, heavy metal and my favorite character from "Avengers" is Loki.
Does that make me a bad person? I like to think not. I may laugh about throwing things and make jokes that would be inappropriate to say to my daughter for several reasons - but that's my way to relieve stress.
If the comments and likes on Facebook pages and visits to similar websites like SomeECards are any indication, I am most definitely not alone out there. I have no idea if we are the minority or not, since for the most part people 'get it'. You don't like it - don't go. If you do, back away slowly and don't comment. Just like not every store is going to have clothes you want to wear - or even clothes that fit (damn my expanding waistline!) - not every website is going to be your cup of tea.
Heck - I would wager most websites won't be your cup of tea, if for no other reason than there are simply way too many of them out there to even think about visiting all of them - ever.
So next time you see something you don't like - move along. It's not going to change the world for you to rant and rave in the comments section. It's not going to give you Karma points to complain to Facebook that someone posted a picture of art drawn on a semi-naked human body.
If you're worried about your kids seeing it, let me be the first to tell you they probably already have. If they haven't, they will. You can either know about it, or insist on posting pictures from LOLCats and hope they just won't ever want for more information. And if they don't have their own Facebook account; password protect your computer. (Hint, use something other than your other passwords, because they probably already know those)
The rest of us aren't going to change anytime soon. And frankly, we shouldn't have to.
Photo courtesy of balleyne on Flickr