“Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me” – old adage.
These words were drilled into us when we were children. It was meant to toughen us up and prepare us for the real world and its consequences. It helped us to realize that harsh words are just that… words.
Being on the receiving end of a proper talk of stick and stones (what it means) when the world is caving in on you can bring back that light at the end of the tunnel that makes us want to get out of bed every day and carry on with our lives.
Corny as it was there were times we needed to hear those words and times we needed to heed them.
Today though… today the digital pen is certainly mightier than the sword, in ways we never imagined before. The wrong words… the wrong emotion can trigger a social backlash, an onslaught of vicious words that… dare I say… do bring harm.
While quaint and incredibly out of date, this old saying has held back the crushing tide of pain for many a person. It has helped people hold it together long enough to get past the crisis at hand.
Today’s angst-driven digital society is another story.
The “gotcha” and “herd” mentalities fostered by our interconnectivity are powerful forces that do serious damage when unleashed. They usually must run their course as trying to deal with it can pour fuel on already blazing fire.
You aren’t just dealing with one person or a handful of people today. You are dealing with the hive… the Borg Collective gone bad where collective members turn on each other for release and entertainment.
Are we really a scarlet letter society online? Are we going to digitally brand people next? Life has enough unwritten rules to navigate and stumble through without social media amplifying everything.
Today digital cameras are everywhere recording things that generally were private before. Sure, cameras have helped when authorities are caught abusing their positions but what about when intimate or extremely embarrassing moments are recorded and posted online without the knowledge or permission of the subjects?
We live in an age where science is openly ignored. Facts get in the way of our predisposed opinions and if you disagree with me… well… you’re evil. No time for debate and certainly no time for contrarian ideas.
“Agree to disagree” seems to have bit the dust as well. This shouldn’t surprise us as “compromise” is another word that seems to be lost in today’s “my way or no way” culture.
We all know we didn’t just become hypercritical and hypersensitive when the internet came on the scene. It just facilitates those feelings by letting us join likeminded people that are just as angry over whatever it is we are angry over.
There has long been Letters to the Editor and mail for the unhappy or aggrieved to get their dissatisfaction across to companies and government alike.
The internet just gave us all a way to do it with less hassle.
In this age of instant information also comes instant backlash, at times for the most innocuous of things it seems but we need to remember that just because it’s of no importance to us doesn’t mean it’s not extremely important to someone else.
Respect is another concept that seems lost in this age of digitally shouting people down that we don’t agree with. Or worse… shaming, possibly bullying, people to our point of view.
Digital democracy is going to be messy. We do have a collective voice. It’s powerful and it hurts when abused.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD at his website.