Deliver us from Digital Bluntness

Stephen Perry
April 20th 2013

The internet is a wonderful tool, with huge potential and is often used with positive results. But more recently it is becoming apparent how, as a tool, it dehumanises and makes people lose a grip on the reality of their actions and the implications of their voice.

Take for example a social tool such as Twitter. It's mission statement is simply "“To instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them.” with 140 characters it does this quite well. But at the same time things can also go wrong. Being such an open platform it allows for anyone to read anything you write (assuming your settings aren't set to private) and yes, that includes your boss!

Adam Orth of Microsoft learned that the hard way and he's not alone, in fact google the words 'twitter' and 'fired' and a stream of web links will appear describing how different people have fallen into the same situations.

This is not a scenario exclusive to Twitter, in fact its well known now that its common employer practice to first check the social profiles of prospective candidates, but also to routinely check up on them.

In 2011 it was reported that Facebook had become 'a primary source of evidence' in US divorce proceedings a trend that still continues today.

Yet this is only the tip of the iceberg. Peoples attitudes online are wholly different from their behaviours in real life,  in fact death threats and insults are thrown out freely without consideration for implication. It appears that the distance between people and physicality has huge implications on the mind and psyche. It does appear obvious when written, but it is something that cultures worldwide need to consider, especially as the internet becomes a more integral part of our lives.

For a parallel scenario take, for example the actions of someone with road rage, could you imagine the same behaviour, brash language and gestures while walking?

Now of course there are always exceptions to the trends, but in a world more and more integrated with technology as a social asset it might be worth education systems and parents considering that 'think before you speak' is not the only motto we need in our lives but also 'think before you type'.

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