Harold C. Jones
The internet is in its infancy.
It has only been around a very short time. The internet really hasn’t grown up yet, although its future is essentially unlimited.
At some point, assuming human beings survive long enough to colonize space, there will be a corresponding planet-based web of communication on any planet we colonize. There will be some form of interplanetary communications. When downloading a page from a Moon-based website, your page might take a couple of minutes to load due to the vast distances. A more likely prospect is that the servers for a Moon-based business enterprise would be located on Earth. They would be updated from time to time. Everything in there would be essentially a couple of minutes out of date. For a reader on the moon, it would still be 'realtime.'
According to some sources, Star Trek, the original series, was a humanist view of the future, when man as a species and as individuals had matured.
Has that happened yet? Some would say not, that it will never happen. The facts speak otherwise.
We are demonstrably more civilized than we were a thousand years ago. If current trends continue, we will be demonstrably more civilized in another thousand years. The internet will be there, and probably a facilitator for what is to come.
The internet is new. It has not had time to mature. What about ourselves as individuals?
This is a true story.
I followed a link posted on Facebook one day, and ended up on a website which I won’t name.
What I read there wounded me deeply.
But is that the truth?
Did that man really hurt me?
That blog post festered within me for a year, a year and a half. It was all insecurity, ladies and gentlemen. One day I went back and flamed the guy. Basically I just said something shitty in the comments of his blog. Of course, human nature being what it is, I had to go back a few times and see if there was any reaction.
Of course there wasn’t. The guy, who had every right to express an opinion, and who had every right to question the big flood of newbie authors, dare I say it, publishing their own work, is a pretty good guy. He had plenty of other blog posts when I went looking—not just following a link, no doubt provided by another pretty good person. The blog post had its humour. This particular writer has a certain style. It is his schtick, his trademark. It is who he is—and who he has every right to be.
The problem really wasn’t his at all—it was mine. I went back at some point and my comment wasn’t there. I don’t know if it made it through the moderation process or maybe he just removed it quietly after checking my site. I guess we'll never know, eh?
He might have been the only guy that saw it.
I saw it too—I saw it for what it was.
It was the desire to hurt, ladies and gentlemen. And I can’t even honestly say that he started it, that last bastion of sanctimony.
I was the one who started it.
He was the one that let it slide.
That’s a pretty good guy, ladies and gentlemen.
And maybe I’m not always a gentleman.
Every so often I read somebody’s blog or page and it makes me a little edgy. It makes me feel kind of insecure.
Every so often that’s going to happen. You don’t have to go back if you don’t want to.
When I post something, I’m perfectly aware that there are people in the world who might find it offensive. Forget whether it’s a fundamentalist terror group or the girl next door. I’m aware that it can and does happen.
It’s a risk we take in order to have freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.
We have the right to offend one another.
If I was to look a Jewish or a Muslim person in the eye and said, ‘you have the right to your religion,’ the first question they might ask is who in the hell gave me the right?
I don’t have the right to give them the right.
And I don’t think they have the right to give me the right either.
You are what you live—you are who you are. Telling someone that they can’t help being born that way, or born in that culture, or that part of the world is pretty presumptuous.
It’s really not up to me, is it?
What I am, who I am, is none of their business, and that works best if it goes both ways.
Every person has an opinion and a right to express it.
This is a small town. I’ve never really met a Jewish person. I’ve never really sat down and talked to a Muslim, or a Mormon, or a Jehovah’s Witness. To realize that there really were Baptists in the world, was a very great revelation. What they might think of me could also be a very great revelation.
The internet brought us together. We are in contact, in virtual terms. We are now neighbours, side by side and face to face.
Our little social fears, our little social anxieties. It’s no longer something that happens in books. It is real now, and we can confront the issues, the social issues, directly. I think that’s a good thing.
The alternative is not to confront them at all. The alternative is to let it fester, to let it go on, and on, and on.
When I grew up here, there were exactly three black families in a town of about fifty thousand. In that sense Canadians kidded themselves that we didn’t have a race problem. And we didn’t. There wasn’t much cause for friction. That’s more likely to happen between two or more sizable minority groups—like when they compete for power, jobs and resources.
Three black families aren’t much of a threat. We can afford to be generous. We can point at Americans, and call them bigots…okay, a little facetious but hopefully the point is made.
In Canada some people froth at the mouth over the thoughts of some little kid leaning French or English in school. The British conquered French Canada, and that is our legacy.
We sometimes fear what we don’t understand. But we are also curious about things we don’t understand.
Some of us want to know. Some of us want to listen.
And some of us want to be heard.
As the internet matures, it will become a great socializing, cross-pollinating influence.
It’s also important to understand that the vast majority are, for the most part, still silent.
It’s a funny thing about moderates. To organize, to band together, and form a pressure group, and use pressure tactics, is the antithesis of everything we are. It’s the opposite of what moderates stand for, and in the short term, it sure looks like moderates are at a disadvantage.
However, they still are the majority, and that’s important to understand.
And maybe, what appears to be a weakness is really our strength.
The other folks, those way out on the ends of the spectrum, have revealed themselves in all of their splendour.
Thanks to them, we now know what the alternatives actually look like.
It’s not pretty, is it?