When the internet first came to be, many thought it would bring the world closer together. I suppose in many ways it has, but perhaps the proverb “familiarity breeds contempt” also applies. 

Are we really better off or closer to our neighbors for having heard their every political opinion, religious affiliation, pet peeve and bad review? Or are we just becoming increasingly aware of our differences to the detriment of our relationships? 

Maybe honesty isn’t the best policy when it comes to our online interactions. Maybe we should practice tempering our words, our posts, our rants and raves, and reviews … because it seems that each day more people are growing far too comfortable with the anonymity or safety that their computer screens or phones afford them. In fact, 95% of teenagers have access to the internet, particularly on their phone, making those devices the most common medium for cyberbullying, the Cyberbullying Research Center reports

We used to have a societal code governing our interactions with strangers, friends, and neighbors. It was that thing called “manners.” Children were taught these rules from a young age and grew up understanding the social order: respect your elders, be kind to your classmates, help those in need. But in the Wild West of the World Wide Web, these rules do not apply. 

Instead, we are free to engage in arguments with whomever we choose. We pick fights with those who disagree. We point out everyone else’s problems or mistakes. It's almost as if some people see themselves as the lawmakers of the internet on the hunt for breakers of their laws, and anyone who steps out of line will be punished dearly. 

Cyberbullying is rampant. Doxing is mainstream. Threats are an acceptable form of punishment over a disagreement. Cancel culture is seen as the ultimate death sentence. But behind these smiling static profile pictures are real people, our friends, our neighbors, people we walk by on the street and in the store, people we would never dream of speaking to in real life the way we speak to them online – or maybe that was just once the case. Maybe manners and kindness are a thing of the past. 

So, again, I ask, are we really closer and more connected because of the World Wide Web or do we just have more access to one another? Access that perhaps we were never meant to have in the first place? 

Technology is truly an amazing thing, but if we allow it to rule us instead of us making the rules for technology, the access and familiarity that technology affords us will only continue to breed more and more contempt. 

If we want to rewrite this narrative and make lasting change, we must begin with ourselves. If it is true that we all make our own rules of conduct on the internet, make your rules now. Determine that you and your family will act with respect and kindness toward others online. Purpose that you will use manners and etiquette in your online interactions. Set standards high for your own content, and monitor your children’s content to keep them safe and accountable as well. I guarantee people will notice and you will make a positive change in your circle and your online community. 

Make the change to see that people are brought closer together in genuine connection, not just in contempt.

Lauren is a wife, mother, and writer with a passion for boldly speaking truth. Writing and speaking for over a decade, Lauren has reached millions worldwide. She is known for her Biblical approach to controversial topics and humorous approach to counteracting the lies of the world. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @laurendemoss.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819news.com

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