Months ago I was listening to the radio when a promo came on to explore one person’s theory that we are living in an age of morality. I scoffed. There’s no way, I thought. In fact, things are more screwed up now than ever. Thanks to the internet, people can say whatever they want, whenever they want, with little impunity. Upon further reflection, though, I began to agree more with this assertion of greater morality. It is true that the anonymity of the internet has allowed for the more rapid spread of hate speech and fear-mongering, but it has also forced light in to some of the darkest corners of our society, those ills we have been adept at covering for years.
The freedom of the internet has also forced us to exercise more self-control. Just because I can write something, should I? Society has begun to draw a hard line in the sand on what constitutes acceptable behavior. It can also allow for exposure of other’s realities. Facing the viewpoints that differ from one’s own with an open mind and caring heart can indeed provide growth of acceptance as well as an increased tolerance for differences.
There was a tweet by Ricky Gervais that I felt summed up the internet succinctly: “Everyone has the right to be offended. Everyone has the right to offend. But no one has the right to never be offended.” As long as we have differences, we will have offensives, however, with an eye to increased morality, perhaps a duty to limit the amount we intentionally offend. I have heard this degraded as people being “too sensitive”, “wusses”, and worse, but why should that be? Of course you have the right to live with wanton disregard of others, but is that really the world you want? The culture of our country has started to shift, we are paying attention more to that which offends, and people are responding to give greater sensitivity to those things that do offend. If that makes us “too sensitive”, “too politically correct”, tell me, where is the ill in that?