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The Dark Side of the Internet

April 1, 2007

I’ve taken this title from a newspaper headline today. The title stayed in my mind and the article in question talks about how “the cloak of anonymity lets people (on the net) be themselves.” While the article talks mostly about suicide chatrooms, drug users, terrorist networks, child pornography etc, this is not the only thing disturbing thing about the internet.

There is also the factor of abuse about which I had written earlier. A lot of people who dare not use sick words to people they know, become animals on the internet.

Ordinary people like me are not exposed to terrorists or drug users or…well, not even virulent verbal abusers. I am not talking of people who use words like ‘fxxx’ casually, but those who are vicious and sick. Sick because they make virulent verbal attacks people whom they have never met. Its a way of venting their rage I guess, a rage which they are full off anyway. A rage which should be vented on the psychiatrists’ couch, but the internet becomes an ideal place too. You can give any email ID and write under any pseudonym, and unless someone makes a police complaint, these people are safe. Many of them don’t admit that they are doing anything wrong and thats what makes it sick. Even when they know very well that if they behave like this with someone in their real life, they will be shunned. So hey, find a vulnerable person on the net and have a go!

I have led a protected life I guess and that is why I wasn’t quite prepared for this. I move around with people from different communities, religions and well…castes (although I am not aware of how to recognize castes by surnames but many people are experts). That is also why I had no problems about letting my real identity be known…I do not know any people personally who behave like this. Although one hears stories. But recently, from my name a reader found out that I was a Brahmin and he well, that was all he (or she?) needed. There are people out there who are not willing to let others have opinions that differ from their own. And in response to that, they won’t argue, or participate in a healthy discussion, they simply abuse and issue threats! And er…not with the real people they know ofcourse. They are simply too scared. They will do it to strangers.

Once I had written about a famous personality’s not paying up a fine for littering and a fan of hers go so wild that he wrote an abusive mail under the name of Kaluram. But guess what? I found him out because he had the same IP address of another commentator who had responded in a civil manner on the same post, a post I had cross posted on a group blog. My friends on the group blog knew him. When I got a comment under the name of Kaluram, I suspected he was the same guy because it was the same post, and the style of writing was the same. Bingo! Both comments came from the same IP address! Now, why didn’t this guy write the abusive comment under his own name? Why did he post an abusive comment on my personal blog and not on the group blog? Because he knew it was wrong, he was ashamed too. And he was afraid of being exposed in front of so many other…guys. These people are afraid of men. And after all, he was a respected blogger and a respected person in society.

Not that I regret letting my real identity be known. But I guess if I had to blog all over again, I would have thought of all the consequences.

This article which talked about the dark side of the internet, didn’t mention this category of people. In fact this category of people is the most common! They look for whom they think are vulnerable people. In fact women are the most common victims because the abusers are cowards and feel afraid to abuse a man. The recent abuser who attacked me because I was a Brahmin, even abused my daughters! Shocking isn’t it? That is because I wrote in the section ‘About Me’ that I have daughters.

Related Reading: Cyber Crime – the most common cyber crime
Censorship on students using Social Networking sites in India
Giving out personal information online becoming more common

(Pic from sponeil.com)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2007 2:40 pm

    This is one of the reasons I have concealed my id. People often, mostly, take prejudiced or biased view once they know who are you, your caste, your locality, your job, your personality and so on…

    But I believe there is always dark side of everything, and internet is no exception. But positively speaking, on the net I have more opportunities and more positive people then people with dark attitude. You can always leave such people and move.

  2. April 1, 2007 3:37 pm

    In that I agree with you a hundred per cent. Far more positive things about the net.

  3. Phantom permalink
    April 2, 2007 3:21 am

    Yup, there is definitely a dark side to the internet. The same fundamentals about the internet that have enabled total freedom of speech and expression, disintegration of all boundaries (geographical, cultural, demographic, religious, ethnic, communal), instantaneous sissemination and distribution of knowledge/informaiton….these same factors have also enabled individuals and groups to express the darker side to their characters and implement agendas that would normally be unfeasible to do so.

    That is why I too operate under a pseodynym….not for fear that somethign I write can be traced back to me (I have no qualms about what i write or express….i ahve nothing to hide), but because it affords me a protective cushion, and truly enables objectivity. But yea, there are scores of individuals out there who use this same cloak of anonymity to do negative things. The sad fact is that the internet feeds the negative energies within such people and allows them a very easy mechanism to delve deeper and deeper into their dark side (typically characterised I supposed by insecurity, low self esteem, displaced negativity/aggression, lack of identity etc). Were it for the internet, such individuals would perhaps have a chance to rid themselves of whatever dark demons drive their negative thoughts…but with such an easy mechanism available….it’s all too easy for them to indulge their fantasies.

    But I agree that the relative benefit affordrd to the world by the internet far outweighs the corruption and negativity associated with it. Better to be aware of it and learn how to handle it, and therefore be able to control it.

  4. April 15, 2007 8:10 am

    Similar incident happened to Kathy Sierra, one of the top technical person on internet.

    Check this,

    http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/03/as_i_type_this_.html

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