You guys, sometimes the internet breaks my heart.
It's true that the World Wide Web has enabled me to do many amazing things. I can shop a wider variety of products from all over the world and can have them sent to my doorstep. I can put myself on Facebook and reconnect with dozens of long lost friends. I can see my friends' beautiful baby, only a day old, all the way in Colorado. And I can share my thoughts and feelings through this blog with you, any time I'd like, and read stories of encouragement, of hope, and of daily life from others scattered across the globe--people I don't know but who can impact my days a few sentences at a time. In many ways the internet is an amazing source of joy in my life.
But, more often than I'd like, I'm reminded of the sad and hateful place the internet can be.
We had a shooting here in Knoxville today. I should say, we had *another* shooting, but those are semantics for another time. We had a shooting at the mall just down the street from my old house, the house my brother lives in now. I've been to that mall dozens of times, and today someone shot two people there, and because of the internet I was able to know about it minutes after it happened. And, minutes after that, the comments on the local news website began to pour in. And I don't know WHY I do this, but damn if I didn't read them. And that's when the internet broke my heart.
There is something so sinister about the way people behave when accountability is removed. Just because you can hide behind the anonymity of a screen name, does that absolve you of basic human decency? My jaw dropped when I read things like "Woops, looks like Obama just lost another two voters". Hateful, horrible, ignorant things. And they just kept coming, one after another. The comments section turned into political grandstanding and the website staff can't even keep up with deleting the racist, bigoted, and inflamatory posts, there are so many pouring in. You see, this mall, this is the "other" mall. The "poor" mall. So the assumptions simply make themselves and the blame flies, before the facts can even be reported. And my faith in humanity withers a bit with every post.
You have made me sad today, Internet. A man is dead, and a small child has lost a father. I hope your cold, cruel, and cowardly anonymous comments comfort you tonight. They're doing nothing for the rest of us.