THE INTERNET is a wondrous world of transformation, or maybe it’s not. It’s certainly great for exchanging information, expanding horizons and fostering new possibilities. But it’s also a cesspool, and wading through it successfully demands a new vision of civility from all of us that is both personal and political.
Transforming anything necessarily requires participation — people putting their collective shoulders to the wheel to challenge the status quo and push for alternatives. Noam Chomsky once said that “the Internet could be a very positive step towards education, organization and participation in a meaningful society.” Oh really? While the web has literally brought us a world of global news and awareness, vast access to knowledge and information, and the ability to join with others quickly and seamlessly to make change, the dark corners of the Internet have spawned new forms of harassment, vitriol and hate speech.