Author: Ian Stewart
Read Time: 7-8 minutes, 945 words
Archive: This author's other articles
It’s 2018, society is unravelling at an alarming rate, we’re all against one another, we’re at each other’s throats, the internet has descended into a war zone, victims are hung from cyber lamp-posts, their carcasses desecrated by the masses as their personal reputations are stamped into the mud, in the background someone is wearing a V for Vendetta mask, they’re spray painting Carpe Diem onto a wall as someone photoshops a cock into Donald Trump’s mouth. The only way we navigate this terrain is by placing each other into pigeon holes labelled “Good Person” and “Bad Person.” What side are you on? Where do you place someone you’ve never met? You need to make a judgement based on very limited info, sometimes a single comment, do you give people a chance or approach everyone as an enemy? It seems so simple, yet so tiring. For me, the world is no longer a simple place, in fact, it seems quite a strange and confusing world to live in at times. Everything we say matters, we must live our lives by every word we manage to throw up beyond our quivering lips, it doesn’t matter about the context, or our mental state at the time, if you’re drunk, pissed off, it doesn’t matter, all that matters are the words, one stupid comment and the big, red, rubber stamp of failure is placed between your eyes and you’re fucked forever more.
Personally, I don’t get involved in any online debates, I don’t feel the desire to attack anyone. There came a time when I decided that I’m tired of being affected both emotionally and physically by someone else’s opinions, or events that I have no control over, I didn’t want to live my life feeling shit, instead I just took a step back, went outside, took a deep breath, exhaled, started looking for the good things in life and improving myself as a person. Whenever I look at social media, I try to figure out how these people live their lives in the real world, perhaps there are some wonderful individuals out there who truly believe that debates and public shaming will make a difference, one’s who also do good things in the world, but sometimes I think people are reading from a script that has been thrown together during the last five years. If you live online, there appears to be a certain way to project yourself to remain in the “Good Person” category, but most of us don’t live online, we live in the real world, it’s completely different, it’s even more complex, it’s where the moral compass inside of you swings wildly, and that’s before even considering the interactions we have with every day psychopaths, one’s who can change their mask so effortlessly, I can’t even begin to throw that into the mix.
I’m a flawed individual, I don’t consider myself to be a good person, although I try to be, everyday is a work in progress, there’s no racism or hate that resides within me, but there is selfishness. It seems that things will be OK for a while, but for reasons I don’t seem to be able to control, I decide to hit the detonate button and hurt the people around me that I love most. That makes me a bad person as far as I’m concerned, so maybe that’s why I mostly give people that the online community describe as bad people, the benefit of the doubt, because I think everyone is flawed in some way. As a society we’ve created razor sharp lines to divide us all, but mine appears to be blunt. There are individuals that I’m sure we all interact with, either work colleagues or relatives, that spout xenophobic drivel at one time or another, most of the time they speak to vent their own frustrations or insecurities and hide behind straw men. Online they would be torn apart, they’d be right beside the faceless racists, disowned, but in real life there’s never been a time where I felt it necessary to shout them down, despite disagreeing entirely with what they say. There’s a chance I’m just a coward, I’ll try to educate them where I can, but who am I to educate anyone? That would make me consider myself to be a better person than them, and that’s where my observations lead my brain to melting point – I’m not better than them. Some of these “bad people” are the kindest individuals I’ve ever encountered, they would do anything for me or my loved one’s and want nothing in return. They believe in family, they do work for the good of the community, they care about the community, if they saw a person trapped in a burning building they would run in without any concern for their own safety. Counter to that, I’ve met a lot of people who fall into the “Good Person” online category, but instead of seeing any good I’ve encountered arrogance, judgement, a sense of entitlement, and constant debate on most topics where the term “debate” is taken with a pinch of salt as there is no give and take, there is only their correct opinion or your wrong one.
The line between good and bad has never been so blurred for me, yet online I see people wielding the axe to close friends for merely choosing not to vilify an acquaintance for saying something misogynistic when drunk. It’s not even about personal decisions anymore, there’s no way to stop the raging war of the online world, and it’s spilling over into our own realities. Where will we be in ten years?
Ian Stewart is on Twitter: @GutterKid101