Today I got to thinking about how the internet can restore one’s faith in humanity; how it can remind us that there are still truly wonderful people in the world. And then I became very sad for society. Why is it that we have such a hard time finding friendly, witty, caring and genuine people at the grocery store or in any other place in our daily lives?
I personally find it difficult to find respectful people even at a local store. It seems like we are too busy with our own lives and stuck so far in our own heads that we have become incapable of being considerate and respectful to the people we encounter face-to-face. We become so focused on completing our task and moving on to the next important thing in our lives that we forget to treat the people around us with common courtesy.
We’ve all had someone cut us off on the road and many of us get very angry about it. “How dare they cut me off! Who do they think they are? And, why do they seem to think that they deserve to go first, that where they are going is more important than where I am going, that their time is some how more valuable than mine?” But that same attitude tends to carry over into the way we treat people in other places. We tend to be discourteous, unfriendly and even disrespectful to people who we see as being “in our way” or who are “holding us up” while we are trying to accomplish our oh-so-important tasks.
By contrast, on the internet we can pick and choose who we surround ourselves with regularly. If I only want to be surrounded by people who make me laugh, or people who do charity work, or people who read the same books I do, I can do that. And we tend to be nicer to people on the internet. If a stranger on the internet is crying because she was fired or didn’t get into college, everyone will rally around that person and tell them how fantastic they are and that things will work out. However, if I walked past someone crying in the middle of the grocery store I would probably be annoyed that they were blocking the macaroni and cheese. And the weird thing is that the person we rally around to help on the internet is the same as the girl crying at the store in front of the macaroni and cheese. But for some reason, we can’t reach out to that person in front of us the same way we reach out to the person online.
Many people who turn to the internet for a sense of community and belonging have been picked on. The idea is that people who need to find friends on the internet lack basic social skills and can not make friends in person. But I think the people turning to the internet have the right idea. I think it is less a comment on those people and more a comment on the society we live in. Maybe when people slow down and remember that the people in our way are actually people, we will begin to show them some compassion. Maybe we will treat them with a little respect. Maybe then people won’t feel the need to look to the internet to find people who will treat them with the common courtesy that they are lacking in their daily lives.
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[author_info]THE VOICES PROJECT: About the Voice
Becki is a recent law school graduate who rescues animals in her free time. She isn’t quite sure where her life’s path is going to lead her, but she hopes it involves bare feet and sandy beaches along the way.[/author_info]
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