Here are a few hopeful wishes for my online experience in 2014.
1. Less articles written with outrageous headlines that are salacious but contradicted immediately in the actual piece. Case in point, the one currently going around with the headline “Real women don’t have curves” and then the first line is that they also do have curves. Here’s to the end of sensational clickbait.
2. More people checking sources. Any person can register a domain and post whatever they like; being “published” online doesn’t speak to the credibility or quality of information. If there’s no source at all, please don’t share it. If there is a source, check on the reliability of said source. This goes twice for health articles: Please, no more shares of medical information from sites like “whydontyoutrythis.com”.
3. People learning to distinguish between their feelings, their opinion, and fact. We are free to have feelings and opinions, but it’s important to be objective and realize that feeling a certain way doesn’t make you the definitive word on said subject. It’s equally important to recognize when you’ve formed an opinion without enough research. In that vein, it’s also crucual never to use the expression “Your rights end where my feelings begin”, because it’s not only horrible, it’s completely false.
4. Folks relearning how to recognize satire. I don’t know if it’s the death of critical reading in general, or if it’s specific to satire, but I have seen numerous shares of (highly ridiculous, very funny, and obviously fake) satire articles that have been taken seriously. If you’re not sure, check the source page’s About section for clarification.
5. The end of articles that blame technology for human lack of impulse control and poor choices. A phone is nothing more than a tool, and like Ani DiFranco said, any tool is a weapon if you hold it right. Nobody blames a knife when a stabbing occurs, so don’t blame your phone for your inability to get off Facebook or stop texting/stalking your ex. If you’re doing shitty or stupid things with your phone or computer and it’s ruining your life, it’s your own fault and you should take responsibility and then make an effort to change.
6. No more homophobia or racism in my feed. It’s sad that I even have to say that, and I’ve been picking people off one by one as I see it. These are both dealbreakers for me and I don’t want to be around anyone who feels that way. Yes, people have a right to their opinions, but there’s a big difference between “opinion” and “hatred that encroaches on human rights”.
7. Better manners and online behaviour that’s consistent with the person’s actual in-person behaviour. Many people get disproportionately brave online, but would never have the same Saturn-sized balls in person. By the same token, some people go online when they’re in a bad mood and unload on someone who has nothing to do with why they’re angry. And some will argue endlessly, calling names and swearing at folks. If you’re that bent out of shape, it’s irresponsible to be online. Make a better choice — be an adult about it.