The Internet: Why You Need to Start Paying Attention

You know what the problem is; it’s about time you did something.

The Internet: Why You Need to Start Paying Attention

Thomas Stevens '19, Broadcast Journalism Writer

I know what you must think of the internet.

The gaming hub.

The social network coordinator.

The domain of the meme lord Carl Wheezer. #AreYourGonnaFinishThatCroissant

The internet is many things, but there are some that need attention. Dire attention.

To start with, our attitude towards the gaming half. I don’t know if you’ve been in a chat or voice channel on, say, Minecraft, but the understatement is toxic. You can hear 9 year olds swearing like dock workers, and trolls, or basically shysters who wind people up for fun, feeding off the hysteria.

You can hear people, children sometimes, screaming “SHUT UP YOU [sexual orientation based slur]” or “F— YOU [severe racial slur]” This is an issue we’ve historically tried to ignore. For example, when the notorious Hot Coffee mod’1 came out, at the time Senator Hillary Clinton put to the floor of Congress a complete ban on the game. This didn’t work, and wouldn’t have worked anyway. You can’t just shut out or ignore these things, but that’s precisely what you’re doing, and it’s teaching our children that it’s okay to use racial slurs.

I’ve tried to have a nice game of GTA (Yes, I play. This is your one stop education on *real* internet safety, the first lesson is you don’t blame the game) and can’t go without some clearly pre pubescent kid screaming horrible words at the top of his lungs. I know what you’re thinking. “The game corrupts our children! We should ban it!”

The solution isn’t to ban it, because kids can just get it off Steam’2 or download from alternate sources, some of which aren’t trustworthy. By illegalizing video games for kids, you’re just driving them into the digital equivalent of back alley areas, and worsening the problem. But there is hope, there is a solution. It’s called netiquette.
Netiquette, or etiquette used on the internet, is how you treat others on the internet. Good netiquette is calling people out for harassing each other or using severe slurs. Bad netiquette is harassing to begin with, or using those terms, or harassing people with good netiquette for having good netiquette.

I personally believe that the public education system is doing its part to teach this vital subject, but it’s not enough. Parents and other people at home need to intervene, to ensure the good netiquette is being taught.

Judgement is a pillar of our society, and if our kids aren’t taught good judgement, the problems will reach *far* beyond the digital world. But we can’t be having this problem without the children *actively* accepting bad netiquette as okay, and saying these things online.

We all need to own up, and fix what’s broken, and I hate to shatter the false reality, but it’s time to start fixing things, because it may seem small and irrelevant now, but every day the Internet grows into a bigger part of our lives, and you can’t shun it.

The time of ignorance is over. Now is the time for action.