THE INTERNET & YOUR CHARACTER
JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group
29 November 2018
The internet puts the world at our fingertips. Want to take a look at the Eiffel Tower? Head over to Google Maps. Want to see a picture of the monument commemorating the Treaty of Canandaigua on the lawn of the Ontario County Courthouse in Canandaigua, NY? Look no further than Wikipedia! Not only are we able to connect with the world via the internet, but the world can connect with us.
My cousin Nick was a typical adolescent boy with a not-so-typical passion. He enjoyed (and was good at) writing poems. Instead of writing his poems down on pieces of paper that got tossed into his jean pockets and disappeared after hour-long baths in the washing machine, he wrote them on the internet. For nine years now, his deepest thoughts live on the internet on a site called adorkablelife.com. He shared his poems with the world and the world connected to them. Before the widespread access to the internet, he might still have his book of poems, but his poems wouldn’t have unlimited access to the world.
Recently, I read a release from the Department of Justice about a bust of two international cybercriminal rings that stole tens of millions of dollars with digital advertising fraud. This crime is a clear indication that unlimited access to a worldwide network can also be bad on a huge scale. I’m aware that this is not a new or original idea. Once every corner of the world was revealed, we had to create a new world — a world that provides a false sense of anonymity while providing a medium in which criminals over 5,000 miles away can manipulate machines to syphon millions of dollars to themselves. This new world is a mix of good and bad: While taking advantage of the good, we have to protect against the bad.
In the words of Oscar Wilde’s character Lord Darlington,
“Do you know I am afraid that good people do a great deal of harm in this world. Certainly, the greatest harm they do is that they make badness of such extraordinary importance. It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.”
Whether you’re charming or tedious is something you control to some extent. How you react in certain situations reflects the extent of that control and your character. But no matter your character and disposition, you’ll have moments of good and bad. That’s humanity. That’s us.
With unlimited access at our fingertips, we should be mindful of that. One good moment doesn’t make a person good. Just as one bad moment doesn’t make a person bad. We collections of our situations and our reactions.
What’s your story?