Freedom of (idiotic) speech

Mar 14th, 2009 | By | Category: Blogs, Commentary, Opinions

Nathanael Edward Bassett


For the most part, it’s a good thing to have your voice heard. America has a unique situation where we’ve protected the rights of our citizens to say what they want (for the most part), and this atmosphere of public discourse has created a sense of entitlement among US citizens, who feel like what they have to say really matters, even when it doesn’t.

I recently did a story for this publication where I spoke to a journalism professor on campus. He told me how the technological revolution had made it so that consumers of the media were able to provide feedback more easily than ever before, and with that, they would not only would respond more, but expect their responses to be heard and read by others. The idea of a media that’s responsible to it’s readers is pretty cool to most people, because it should result in responsible journalism.

I mean, in theory, our ability to say anything, anytime, anywhere is pretty useful, but it can also be used for evil. I mean, who really wants to know what you ate for breakfast when you update your facebook status? Or for that matter, some undergrad’s opinions on the metaphysical (or lack of such)?

I know a lot of people feel the same as I do, so I’ll say it for all of us; when I jump online, usually I don’t read your updates. When I log into facebook, I ignore your comments about how you got three hours of sleep, if I go to Myspace, I don’t check your to see if your Mood: Elated! and thank god none of us use Livejournal anymore so I don’t have to pretend to keep up with your whiny introspective diary entries.

You know those friends that you had a few years ago, and then they look you up and connect to you? The Internet, and social networking especially is to blame for the fact that you can’t just let some acquaintances drop of the face of the earth like they should. You’re not “forced” to look at their third grade opinions every time a relevant news story becomes popular, but knowing they are out there is sometimes irresistible just for the entertainment value.

The important thing is to remember that what you say on the Internet could matter someday. And you don’t want to do something you may regret later. So what am I saying? Talk on the Internet as though you’re talking to a group of strangers and friends in real life. Not as though you’re sitting in your underwear eating graham crackers at three in the morning and your jokes are HILARIOUS.  Also, when you send messages in a public setting, make sure you don’t say anything too idiotic. Cause, like, we want to pretend we like you.

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  1. one more for the road