Is There A Ray of Hope For the Internet?

In a world where kids have cell phones by the time they can recognize numbers on the keypad and know how to cruise the interwebs better than the majority of their elders, cyber bullying has become almost unavoidable. With so many social networking sites and so little control of who is using them and how, the extent to which people can bully each other has grown significantly in medium and reach.

But is the internet simply a big bad wolf? Is the technological generation doomed in terms of how we treat each other because of the anonymity of social networking and internet communication?

Formspring, a social networking site that has gained infamy as a forum for mean jokes and harsh comments between middle and high school students, is growing in popularity for many reasons (good and bad.) But at Lake Zurich High School, an anonymous student has brought a ray of hope into the bad light that has been cast upon Formspring. The student started a page on the site called “LZ Compliments,” where she encourages her classmates to sing each other’s praises, all anonymously. She takes the time to go through and approve each comment, making sure that only nice things are said on her page.

Initially it took a while to sort through the negative comments to find the compliments, claims the student, but that changed as the page’s popularity grew. Now “LZ Compliments” is filled with snippets of good humor from “you’re so pretty” to “thank you for always being there.”

And this is only one person’s attempt to make the internet a little more friendly. There are thousands (or probably more) of sites out there that bring people together based on common interests with the intention of building relationships or banding together behind a cause. Most social networking sites have been praised for their ability to reconnect old friends and allow users to keep up with people they care about. Facebook has numerous applications that are meant to be used for the greater good (causes, groups), and Tumblr has gained notoriety as a place for people to reminisce on things that make them smile (the 90s, Starbucks misspelling our names, cats.)

No matter what, since the internet is such an open forum, there will always be a little negativity floating around. But there is still hope for our generation’s means of communication, friends. When is the last time you bullied someone on the internet? I hope your answer is never. And if it is, then you see what I mean–not everyone is out there to throw out insults behind the safety of their computer screen.

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