Yesterday one of the greatest voices of our time and a musical influence to many artists passed away. Twitter was immediately flooded with the news of Whitney Houston‘s passing and the media clamored to post the details. It’s what we expect and the media accommodates by trying to find the most salacious headlines. If it bleeds…it leads. We live in a society that is titillated by the misery of others.
The cause of her death is still unknown, but reading through some of the comments on CNN and other media sites, I am again absolutely astounded at the lack of self control and the utter depravity of some who feel that because their identity is unknown, it is acceptable to post some of the most disparaging and downright disgusting comments that have been posted. Has the internet given permission for people to behave like this? Surely they do not say these things in front of their family and friends? What about Whitney’s daughter who may see the comments?
The commentary is bothersome because (1) it is disrespectful and very hurtful to those who loved Whitney, and (2) when people continue to behave in this manner, it becomes second nature. The tools that we have traditionally relied on to communicate become obsolete. Tools such as acknowledging and comprehending social cues from others, or knowing that certain social behaviors are just unacceptable. These social tools seem not to exist on the internet and the communicator is essentially at their liberty to behave in the most vile manner possible, and much of the time without repercussion. I cannot help but wonder how this medium of communication affects the psychological state of mind long-term.
This behavior is not reserved just for celebrities. All you have to do is take a peek at some of the Twitter activity recently coming from some of the true crime groupies. There are no social boundaries and the internet is like the Wild West…there are no sheriffs there. No one wants to enforce cyberstalking laws because of the jurisdictional issues and law enforcement thinks that you should just turn off your computer and it will go away. Individuals can say anything they want and have no punishment for doing so. They can post outright lies just because they feel threatened or jealous of another. Would they do this face to face? Doubtful. Their social boundaries are skewed, and in their minds they are entitled to “freedom of speech” even if it means being viewed as a total dirtbag. They just don’t get it, and if you point out their obvious lack of social decorum and bad behavior, you are then accused of being a bully.
Freedom of speech is one thing, but being a social derelict is another.