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The Internet is a Real Place with Real Consequences

May 25, 2013, 4:00 PM

I think one of the problems I think with a lot of people in high school is that people don’t think of the internet as a real place or a place that has physical consequences in the physical world. This happens with adults who ought to know better too. People stuff online on a whim about what they’re thinking, about some other person or about something they did at a party or whatever and then this ends up having consequences for them that a future employer sees.

So you really need to think about the consequences of your activities online for yourself and for other people and how you might be hurting other people too with you online behavior just like your behavior on the street.  If you do certain things in public there might well be consequences for it and the same thing online and I think sometimes people act like the Internet isn’t a real place and we definitely need to think of it as a real place because what you do online does end up coming back to affect your real life and other people’s real lives in a lot of different ways.

We have rights that we need to defend, but we also have responsibilities just like when we walk down the street.  If you’re going around hitting people or grabbing their stuff or whatever there are obviously consequences if you’re behaving like a jerk as you walk down the street.  There are consequences and you have a responsibility to kind of behave in a civil manner and the same thing online that we’re going to build the kind of world on the internet that we want and if you’re kind of building a world online that’s kind of full of hate and full of kind of thoughtless behavior and uncivil behavior then that’s going to result in a world really where you know that’s a lot less pleasant and also is going to have consequences in terms of people saying well the internet is not a place where you can have—you know people don’t deserve their rights on the internet because they’re all behaving like jerks on the internet and so this is the other thing is that we need to show that we can use our freedoms in a way that’s positive and not just negative.

Over time if you want rights you have to also show that you can use them responsibly and that you can build a positive world in the online space and that’s also very important.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock. 


The Internet is a Real Plac...

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