Friday, October 15, 1999

The Good, The Bad, and The Internet

By Jeffrey Hoyt (

What did you do today?

Sent a birthday card, viewed brutal crime scene photos, researched Russian poetry, checked out some pornography, expressed your views to your Congressman, and worshipped the Panda?

From the kind and thoughtful, to the sick and immoral, to the just plain silly -- all these things and more can be found on the Internet. TMFSelena got to the heart of it with her latest message -- Confronting Contradictions -- on the Rule Breaker portfolio:

"Think about the Internet and you'll eventually notice an intriguing dichotomy. The Web is full of such nasty stuff -- but such good stuff, too. Is it an evil new development in society, as some people think? Or is it a great boon to humankind? Hmm.... (scratching head)."

Take a look at that list above again. The things I listed only scratch the surface -- add theft, writing to cheer up a dying friend, hate groups, feed the starving around the world, and child molestation, and you start to see the extremes widening -- and I haven't even come close to the limits.

You see, the Internet is just the "state of the art" in a process that's been going on for a long time now. Technology empowers people to do more of what they would have done anyway. We can do it better, faster, and easier. Technology amplifies that which is good and evil in all of us. It amplifies the ability to inflict each on the world around us. Viewed this way, the fact that the Internet shows such a dichotomy is not at all surprising, and I view the direction it is going to be an indication of the fate of us all. (I was despondent for a while, but things seem to be looking up.)

The truth is, that the Internet is bringing the world together and letting us look at each other's faults and virtues up close and personal. It is both "an evil new development in society" and "a great boon to humankind." It has to be, because it is a reflection of us. Both good and evil exist in each of us in some proportion. We have a responsibility to each other to put our best foot forward here, whether you create a sparkling new website dedicated to the Seven Wonders of the World, or just utter a comment under your breath instead of posting that nasty reply to the TMF message boards, it matters what you contribute to the new community -- what you show the world you are capable of.

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