Anyone who has been the target of online bullying knows that in the new public forum created by the Internet knows the traditional social norms that typically govern in-person exchanges don’t apply. Whereas in a face-to-face encounter most would act with a modicum of civility, the very same people might not hesitate to unleash a torrent of hatefulness when hiding behind a pseudonym or while commenting online.
To me this proves little other than the fact that bullies are in fact cowards. The well-worn social conventions of public discourse have evolved over time to tame the beastly side of men, but the relatively new pathway of online communication is the modern equivalent of the Wild West. It is an uncivilized and potentially dangerous frontier generally unsafe for children and the faint of heart.
Just as there were those who contributed to the civilization that we now enjoy, a world in which most can enjoy a life free of senseless bullying, I hope that over time the Internet will be conditioned more heavily by the fundamental compulsion to civility that resonates in the heart of every child on earth. Adults may turn their backs in this inner drive, but the surge of decency through children is an inescapable reminder of the natural state.
Human decency will always reemerge, no matter how ugly and distorted things might become on the surface at any given point in history. Wars, cruelty, despotism or even the mundane emotional outbursts that flare up between people veil human decency, but respect is intrinsic to the human soul, if not to the spirit of life itself. It is the inextinguishable flame, for it emanates from the very core of each one, from a place that is untouchable by human insensitivity, abuse or disrespect.