EDITOR’S NOTE – AUGUST 2015

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Think before you type

You probably know where I’m going with this. To preface this month’s note, I should qualify by stating that the internet and the seemingly endless capabilities it has unlocked for humankind came at a perfect time for me. I’ve always joked that if you need someone to build you a decking, I may not be the guy. If you need someone to build you a website, I’ll have it knocked out by lunchtime. The online world has allowed me to focus my abilities into an enjoyable career.

So this month I have cause to reflect upon a time before social media and their electronic vehicles – computers and mobile devices – when people learned to think before they spoke. Often this lesson was harsh, featuring embarrassment at best, or  a clip over the ear, and a blistering dressing down in front of classmates, team-mates or family at worst. The process wasn’t ideal, but the outcome was better than the current model. If you wanted to have your say, you either put up your hand, or sent a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, but it would be printed with your name and address – there were no anonymous keyboard warriors before Facebook.

Old fogey talk? Maybe, but life felt brighter without the much publicised outbursts of misogyny, racism, fat shaming, and anti-gender equality sentiment we’re currently witnessing. Frightening as these are to read, its the overall lack of empathy and humanity that bothers me – last I checked we still lived in a society.

One school of thought is that these issues must be flushed out in order to be dealt with and the underlying attitudes changed. Or does the very ability to be able to spout whatever you want with little fear of retribution spark the desire – the professional troll scenario?

Whichever is true, I still wonder where the anger and hatred is coming from. Perhaps it was always there, isolated, bubbling away under the surface, without the new-found support to nurture and grow it or a forum to vent via – forums that only require a submit button, with consideration or full understanding of the consequences being optional, and often the exception.

Free speech may be a theoretical right, but it’s still a privilege, so its use should not only have a valid point, it ought to be constructive, and help our continued evolution as a species.

So if you can’t say it to someone’s face, one on one, perhaps best not to type it.

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