June 5th, 2009

New Look

So this is where we ended up... in the Age of Mean.

When I first got online over a quarter of a century ago, BBS's were in their infancy, and the rules for online discourse were only starting to get figured out. There were of course disagrements and "flamewars" (although the word didn't exist yet) but in general, if you were actually online talking to someone at all, you had to be reasonably intelligent to use a computer and get online (with some rare but notable exceptions). Especially in the days when you had to find out the numbers to the BBS (and they weren't in the phone book) hand-type the AT commands to call it.

Then, of course, the online world exploded, first with the June 1983 release of WarGames came out and every nine-year old begged their parents for a modem so they could hack into NORAD. The online world was never the same. Same thing for the AOLers flooding the online world the minute they were unleashed upon UseNET during Eternal September a decade later. The signal-to-noise ratio of the entire UseNet went to hell after that, I can't remember the last time I even tried to read anything in it. It was a sad loss of a valuable online resource to pollution by stupidity.

And so now, here we are. While the video above is hilarious, it underscores the sad truth that the online world has become a much more vicious and ignorant place. If it's not enough to worry about porn spammers and phishers these days that might steal your identity, now we have to deal with the pollution spewed forth from nasty and ignorant miscreants that have somehow learned to type, although apparently not spell. (And this in an age of spell checkers)

And you might ask yourself... HOW did I get here!?!?Collapse )

The change must come from all of us. While I'm not all that hopeful that anything will get better in the near term, eventually having a nation not torn apart by war and greed will go a long way. I also think education is a huge part of the battle. As a kid in grade school, you end up having to take years of classes on how to write essays and develop critical thinking, but the schools never really teach how to communicate or interact with people online. It has to start in the classroom, and it has to start with the kids. And it has to start with all of us.
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