Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

learn about the latest and greatest from the School of Business

Friday, November 18, 2011

The best and worst thing about the internet

Sometimes, it’s best to just keep some thoughts to yourself.

Connor Child
Arguably the best and worst thing about the internet is that it gives just about everyone a voice. Once upon a time all you could do was rant about the Raiders’ offense to three of your friends – now, you can get on a message board and say something deeply poignant like “CARSON PALMER SUCKS!!!” and get 15 responses in an hour. The upside is increased feedback, efficient communication and instant responses. The downside is that a phrase like “CARSON PALMER SUCKS!!!” is Shakespearian compared to 90 percent of the drivel you will come across on any open internet forum.

As I said earlier, some thoughts are better off left unsaid. This American Life recently reran one of my all-time favorite episodes, “Right to Remain Silent.” The first segment of the program focuses on Joe Lipari, a man who became infuriated with the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City and made his anger abundantly clear in a Facebook post later that day. After watching the movie Fight Club, he posted a paraphrased quote from the movie that said, among other things, that he might “walk into an Apple store on Fifth Avenue with an Armalite AR-10 gas powered semi-automatic weapon and pump round after round into one of those smug, fruity little concierges."

One of his Facebook friends saw the post and reported him to the police, and it wasn’t long before he was visited by the police and charged with two felonies. He has spent the last few years in and out of courts fighting the charges. Although the ordeal appears to be over (a judge dismissed the charges in February), he definitely paid a price.

Lipari was obviously being sarcastic. But sarcasm doesn’t come through on the web quite like it does in person. Additionally, it’s probably a good idea to avoid any sort of references to pumping rounds of ammunition into people.

Extreme cases like Lipari’s are the exception and not the rule. The First Amendment is thriving in today’s era of social media, according to an editorial in the Dallas Morning News. In 2006, 45 percent of students surveyed said the First Amendment guaranteed too many rights. That number dropped to 23 percent in the 2011 survey. The increase in use of social media has also led to increased tolerance of opposing views. A group called the Knight Foundation “found a link between social media and tolerance of unpopular opinions; daily users were the most tolerant and infrequent users the least.”

Let’s just hope these people eventually come up with something cleverer than “CARSON PALMER SUCKS!!!”

- Connor Child

No comments:

Post a Comment