The Internet is a great thing. It has brought people from diverse cultures together in ways that could never have even been dreamed of 10 years ago. And I believe that one of the reasons that this has been so positive is the ability to communicate without the racist, sexist, or plethora of other cultural barriers that tend to automatically (and often subconsciously) rise when dealing with people with different backgrounds on a face to face basis. The Internet tends to anonymize us, forcing us to deal with others as they are, not as we assume they might be.
However as with everything, this anonymity also has a down side. There are those who, emboldened by the safety of the computer screen, tend to become more disrespectful, rude and insensitive, and are more likely to mouth-off than they would had they been engaged in a one on one conversation with someone in real life.
Allow me to submit, for you consideration, a story of two men, and two computers, connected by naught but over 1330 miles of combined copper and fiber, whose virtual conflict transcended the bounds of the virtual world, and ultimately ended in incarceration and flame:
A Navy man who got mad when someone mocked him as a “nerd” over the Internet climbed into his car and drove 1,300 miles from Virginia to Texas to teach the other guy a lesson.
As he made his way toward Texas, Fire Controlman 2nd Class Petty Officer Russell Tavares posted photos online showing the welcome signs at several states’ borders, as if to prove to his Internet friends that he meant business.
When he finally arrived, Tavares burned the guy’s trailer down.
This week, Tavares, 27, was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading no contest to arson and admitting he set the blaze. – [Yahoo/AP]
These two men, as a result of their insensitivity and lack of respect for each other, each paid a terrible price, in spite of the gulf between them, perhaps proving that, even in an age of circuits and virtual interaction, there is still a place for tolerance, courtesy, respect and consideration for our fellow human beings.
More importantly, it is hoped that all will heed the lesson in this: That the Internet is no protection against idiocy. Even here, In The Twilight Zone…
[End: Rod Serling Impression]
Man burns down trailer in online feud – [Yahoo/AP]