Posted by: goalpath | July 10, 2009

Do Social Media Sites Sometimes Spawn Socially Unacceptable or Politically Incorrect Outbursts?

Will the internet profoundly change our society for the better? I hope it will, but I see examples that would indicate otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, the world wide web powers my business. Last fall, my partners and I launched a web opinion portal that is quite social. But I am worried about the state of social networking today and what it might evolve into in the not too distant future?

I am not an old curmudgeon railing against technology. Okay, maybe I am old, but I am no technophobe. I became involved in technology early on selling computers at a Computerland store in Austin, Texas before IBM introduced its first PC. I graduated from personal computer sales to product management, then onto marketing and general management working for mainstream hardware and software companies. So I have witnessed the evolution of the personal computer and the internet in the last three decades.

I believe technology will drive our economy into the future and play a major role in both America’s economic recovery and societal evolution. Those things are certain. My biggest concern has to do with the declining quality of social interaction on the internet. I realize that the written word in cyberspace is going to take all forms from the eloquent to absurd just based on the numbers of citizens online at any given moment.  

It wasn’t so long ago that there were some limits on what a person could say in public and in their communications to or through the media. Hate, as well as gender and racially biased rhetoric was held to a minimum. That was before the advent of the world wide web. Consequently the dialogue that took place in newspapers, and on the radio or television broadcasts was more civilized for the most part. With the advent of the internet, social networks and public forums have become the Wild West all over again.

Each morning I scan numerous media sites, blogs, and social networking discussions looking for topics to write about and content to add to my own web site. I am amazed at the amount of profanity, racial and gender slurs, and outrageous comments contained in these discussion forums and comment sections of the social networks. I am not talking about the content of web sites like the New York Times, Washington Post, or Wired.com. I am talking about some of the more popular blogs, along with Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace.  Free speech is what makes America great, but a lot of what is posted on these sites is crap, pure and simple.

Of course, the crap factor is a function of the anonymity of the web. Most right thinking, or left thinking people would never talk like this in public. But since you can use a pseudonym on a lot of these sites, your anonymity is pretty much guaranteed. I am also confident that most of these offenders wouldn’t use this type of language in front of their family. Of course when you are sitting alone at home, or in your office, staring at your computer screen, you tend to feel both invincible and invisible. So let her rip and tell it like it is.

I am pretty sure the majority of these offenders are under thirty. Sorry, that is my own biased assessment. And I am guessing that most of these offenders have been brought up to be courteous, congenial and to respect others. So what happens when they sit down at their computers? Maybe it’s a perfect outlet for venting their aggressions and hostilities towards others. I am quite sure that they also know that this platform is about the only form of social interaction where they could get away with such behavior.

So what are the ramifications of this type of behavior on the web? Will it lead to lowering the bar in all social interactions? Will discourteousness, profanity and bad behavior become the behavioral norm in social situations in the future? I certainly hope not. Can we police the web and set fines and punishment for these miscreants? I don’t think so Tim. We take our free speech very seriously.

So how do we raise the bar? It’s your turn to tell me. And please try to do it without being profane, culturally biased, politically incorrect or disrespectful. And if you are a Baby Boomer, please take a minute to click over to our homepage and check it out. You should already be on www.boomeropinion.com if you are reading this. You might even want to join our community. We recently changed our web site name from Boomer Insight to Boomer Opinion. If you are a Boomer and have an opinion, we need you. And hopefully, you won’t find very much profanity or disrespectful comments on our site.  Thanks for your support.

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