I admit it, I’m an Internet junkie. Every morning, right before I get out of bed, I grab my laptop off the foot of my bed, where I left it right before I went to sleep the night before, and check my email. Shortly before leaving to work, while downing my first of many cups of coffee, I check my favorite accounts: AOL Mail, Facebook, Twitter, news outlets, and Craig’s List (it’s amazing what one can find on there!)
As eagerly as I am consuming my morning caffeine jolt, I am consuming each word I read… overnight, I am checking who did what to whom, who got caught, who cleaned for which holiday, who is tired, who isn’t, who had babies, who is hinting that they may be pregnant, who is hinting that they are having an affair… the myriad of information within the world of the internet is ay my fingertips, and all I have to do is type in the site of my choice… www. Whatever I want to know. Com.
I never thought twice about it. Well, I thought twice, often more than twice, about the people about whom I passed judgment on. “How stupid” I would think to myself, “that otherwise intelligent individuals have nothing better to do than sit online telling the world their business”, never once considering or realizing that I too, sat in the same pond that I was drowning my counterparts in.
Daily, in between work, sleep (which I seemed to be getting less and less of) and school, I spent more and more time on Facebook, reading the statuses of individuals. This one has a sore back, this one is angry with his wife, or her with her husband, this one is having a great day at work, this one is bored and misses her family… so much information, so mundane.. and then I spotted it.
A status that sounded a little too familiar. Someone had written something about my child. Not using my name did not prevent this occurrence from changing that I knew exactly who this person was referring to, and you can imagine my delight when after this particularly graphic comment, there were seven comments trailing after. My friend apologized, stating that there had been a particularly high level of frustration that day, and that there was a realization that printing that frustration was not nice, but the comment remained up, on the face of Facebook, for all to see…
Humiliation abound, I continued to check back. Had anyone else figured out that the comment was regarding my child? Did anyone else realize that I was essentially being accused of being a bad and neglectful parent? Shamefacedly, I sat back, and watched, as the new face of gossip, Facebook, slowly devoured me in its jaws.
Gossip has the inane ability to completely and totally destroy even the best of relationships. It can ruin decades of friendship, marriages, partnerships and familial relationships with just a few misplaced (or in some cases, well placed) words. Most often, the comments are not intended to b e malicious or vindictive, they are merely a frustration being vented, and the ventee rarely realizes the impact that their comment can have.
From a very young age we are taught that if we have nothing nice to say, it is better to say nothing at all, but does that include typing? Does the written word have less power than the spoken word? Would it do any less damage? The Internet today has the ability to reach millions of people with a single click. One small misplaced comment that may have been overheard by three, once typed in, is now viewed by thousands, perhaps more… and now, thanks to the Internet, the humiliation is far reaching as well.