The Internet is, arguably, one of the greatest, most revolutionary inventions we’ve ever come across. It’s been a landmark game-changer in how we communicate, research, interact and summarily, live our lives.
But a few choice incidents have made us question why we should even continue to bother with the Internet.
Besides being the most efficient time waster ever, with Facebook and lolcats driving down productivity and making it that much harder to get studying done (reason enough to get rid of it), the world wide web’s been a quick, cheap and easy platform for viral videos, games and photos that expose the worst of humanity. And the last few weeks have provided a whole list of incidents that exemplify this.
In British Columbia on Sep. 10, a group of men gang raped a drugged 16-year-old girl. Pictures and video recordings of the incident were posted on Facebook, and every time police take down content, they are uploaded again just as fast. A 16-year-old boy was arrested and released, and could be charged with child pornography distribution. And the RCMP report that the victim is “re-victimized” by the content.
The “Dawson College Massacre!” video game, which allowed gamers to re-enact the 2006 Dawson shooting, provoked an outcry from current students, survivors and shocked Montreal, and no doubt brought grief to both the family of the lone victim who did not survive, as well as the family of the gunman.
Another Facebook story includes an Israeli soldier posting photos of her posting with bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoners. Inappropriate? Disrespectful? Reminiscent of Abu Ghraib? Some sure thought so, because the incident drew criticism and likely worsened tensions in an already tense situation.
And who could forgot the video of the Bosnian girl in the red hoodie tossing six puppies into a river and drowning them? Thousands watched the video, because despite being yanked off one website, it sprouted up on many others.
So, evidence of rapes, puppy killing and re-enacting of shootings are posted online. A few sick or mistaken individuals can create malicious shockwaves with the click of a button. There are countless other heinous activities like these that make us want to toss the whole danged Internet out the window, and impose incredibly strict rules on who can post what online, and limit the amount of content certain people can upload.
But even if the Internet never existed, evil and bad things would still happen in this world — and perhaps the Internet itself is a useful tool for getting rid of some of the nastier stuff out there.
After all, putting something on a platform draws attention to it — hopefully, in these cases, shining spotlights that can lead public outcry to have the offending material pulled, people who’ve committed infractions and crimes punished, and highlighting issues that need to be discussed.
The video of the girl throwing puppies led to an investigation into the incident.
While it’s hard to pull any kind of meaning from the B.C. gang rape, you can be sure many a household with young women in it have had discussions about how to be safe at parties and avoid similar situations.
And the Dawson game reminded people that memories and feelings were still fresh just four years down the road — and while the video game’s creator was misguided in his intentions to understand the killer’s ethos, he did raise important questions: why do people walk into public areas and shoot people? And how can we prevent this from happening again?
While our stomachs churn at the thought of more horrific incidents gaining a global stage via the world wide web — in a way, the speed and access granted by the Internet provides a way for us to discuss these incidents and the issues that arise from them, and make sure offenders are punished or at least, chastised.