As I sat in front of my computer and looked up my word for today, gratitude, I scrolled down to the bottom of the web page on http://www.merriam-webster.com to see that people were there in a deep discussion about something that has nothing to do with gratitude, creationism and the Beastie Boys. I know, two totally different topics. I began to think about one thing that I think we never thought about before the existence of social media, everyone has an opinion. Opinions are like mouths, everyone has one. It doesn’t mean that they are right though. Someone may think my opinion is wrong and like many others, they are entitled to their opinions. I think where we have to evaluate whether what we see is a gift or a curse is when we see that opinions from one seem to override sometimes the opinions or rights of others. We have to understand that when we pull our chairs up to our desk and turn on our computers, we make many connections to others in places that we have probably never seen.
Let’s face it, the internet is not perfect. It is man made. With the creation of Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms, we have been plucked up and thrown into the opinions of people from around the world but more so the opinions of your friends that you often felt that you were on the same page to find that not only do they practice a different religion, but they are of a differing political party. The things that were sometimes not talked about before are now game in the social media world and we have children that are on these sites without filters. For instance, during the last Presidential election, the number of children, notice I said children meaning 18 and younger, that had derogatory and racist remarks to make about the President of the United States and his reelection were there for people to see on the news and in newspapers for weeks. Those people will be affected by this for the rest of their lives. Another startling example is a young woman that dressed as Boston Marathon Bombing victim for Halloween who in turn was harassed by individuals on the internet because for some reason, she posted a picture of her driver’s license with her parents address on it. Now, was she wrong, yes, did she and her family deserve the harassment that they received s a result, no. Not every person that has access to this great tool is stable and they do things that are not rational. They also say things that are not rational. When writing any post on the internet, I have to think about what the affects my statements may have on my life down the road. I don’t think that there is a conversation going on with our children as they are thrust into the world of technology. They are being told that bullying on the internet is wrong, but they are not saying that what you think may not be appropriate. This conversation should be going on not only at home, but at school and we as parents need to do a better job at projecting a social media image that we would be happy for our children to see at any given moment.
So tonight as I sit here and write this post, I realize that sometimes the internet can be a gift and it can be a curse. It can be a great tool that we use as we embark on many things such as education or even for the special needs community, demonstration in things such as the brushing protocol on youtube. There is a wealth of information there, but we just have to look over the things that are not important to us. So I intended to write a post about gratitude and being thankful for the people and things that we have in our lives. I am thankful that I have a medium to express my feelings on. I’m thankful to have an opinion that does not over ride anyone else’s opinion and that I am open enough to understand that there are many different types of points of view. I will say that the lessons that I teach my daughter at 14 about the world wide web are the same lessons that I plan to teach my younger two when the time is right. Be careful of what you say on the net, you can’t always hit the undo button.