Act Accordingly

a post on Critical Thinking

02/03/2011 · Plano, TX · The Internet and mobile devices do not make us antisocial. They make us hyper-social. Technology has outpaced etiquette, the evidence of which permeates any public space. People constantly let digital interaction interrupt real-life interaction, but if we all start viewing online as real life, we will understand that we already have societal frameworks for being social and polite in this freshly connected world.

Nothing about online interactions are virtual. We have confused speed and ease of use for innocuousness, but the same offenses apply as in the tangible world. We must concede that online interactions of all sort – blog comments, gaming chatter, tweets – count as real social interactions.

Think of your last family gathering [or un-repress it, if you must]. Would it be rude if you invited a stranger over and slunk with them in the corner playing Scrabble for hours? Or consider the last time you were at a coffee shop with a friend. Would drifting into conversations with the table behind you at random intervals show any respect to the person with which you are sitting?

The illusion that online anonymity is a new frontier of antisocial behavior ignores that we’re all strangers until we introduce ourselves. What keeps us, then, from constant adolescent behavior in public? Dignity: it exists on the Internet, too, and it is just as easy to recognize those who are not burdened by it.

Accepting that there is no distinction between meatspace and cyberspace – beyond a whirling slush of molecules – untangles a whole bunch of strange and useless abstractions of what the Internet is: a tool for people to communicate. Acknowledging that online interactions are real and meaningful might just inject some couth back into our lives, so I will wade further into the obvious to say this as definitively as I can:

The Internet is real life. Act accordingly.

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