Internet can be a weapon for good and bad
Several recent events have shone a spotlight on the Internetâs ability to enable sexism, racism and general negativity. The UCLA âAsians in the Libraryâ video, the Kappa Sigma email, the campaign to make CollegeACB anonymous â chances are, this list is familiar.
Many young adults know how to slap content on a webpage. Our ability to foresee the consequences of what we post, however, hasnât quite caught up with our ability to use the Internet.
Part of the problem is the Internet promotes intolerance.
At USC, being bluntly racist isnât socially acceptable. Still, with a little eavesdropping, one can hear plenty of borderline racist comments. Theyâre usually just racist enough to be offensive, but just mild enough to allow speakers to call them âjokes.â
Itâs easy to avoid admitting that our campus has a problem. Whereâs the proof?
Nowadays, itâs online. It takes one look at CollegeACB to figure out not all Trojans embrace diversity. Uploading is so easy it can be impulsive, especially if no one knows who you are.
But words on a forum, however trivial, are more permanent than words mumbled in a hallway. More importantly, theyâre harder to ignore.
Although the aptly titled âItâs time to take the âanonymousâ out of CollegeACBâ campaign has good intentions, it doesnât solve any problems. The problem isnât that we canât attach names to the sexists and racists. The problem is the fact they exist in the first place.
Since people clearly think offensive thoughts, itâs better to know exactly what those thoughts are. The challenge is figuring out what to do with it. Unless the United States wants to follow Iranâs lead and start censoring the internet, no one can stop hateful comments from spreading like wildfire.
The best option is to take advantage of the very quality that makes the Internet so effective for haters: its egalitarian nature.
In the past, societyâs privileged groups had wildly disproportionate control over which messages got sent and which did not.
Now, with the Internet, traditionally disadvantaged groups have the Â opportunity to point out intolerance whenever they want. The key is to make the protests as loud as the hate â and with style.
No one likes to be preached at, but most people can appreciate a fiery debate, and everyone loves a good joke. Thatâs why articles mocking the Kappa Sigma email are easier to find than the email itself; thatâs why videos satirizing the UCLA âAsians in the Libraryâ rant keep getting so many hits.
Thus, the Internet is a fantastic place to let the world know that yes, youâre aware of racism in your community, and no, youâre not going to let it go unnoticed.
The amount of hate on the Internet is scary, but censorship of any kind is not the answer.
Beyond First Amendment implications, censorship allows problems like latent bigotry to be covered up and ignored. The process of unveiling it might be uncomfortable, but no group in the United States is condemned to just sitting and listening. Find a computer and respond.
Maya Itah is a junior majoring in communication.