But I was thinking, as I watched several people on the AOL boards whip themselves up into a lathering, self-righteous frenzy...what did you people do before there was an internet to act insane on? Did you stalk your neighbors and coworkers? Did you berate store clerks and waitresses? Did you kick puppies and run over turtles?
How did angry people express all their turbulant rage before the internet made it safe to anonymously to mistreat strangers? I don't think anger was invented concurrently with the World Wide Web, so people with uncontrolled, uncontrollable rage at the world must have either contained it or acted out in real life. Maybe they beat their spouses or their kids...or maybe they sat alone, seething at perceived injustices in their lives.
But the interesting thing about the internet is that it didn't take any time at all for angry, unstable people to latch onto it as their venue of choice for retaliating at a world that doesn't care for them in the way they want to be cared for.
I read an article a couple of days ago about the number of people, mostly women, who've shut down their blogs after being ruthlessly harrassed online. Death threats, rape threats, and endless verbal abuse...from total strangers who disagree with their politics, their sexual orientation, or their viewpoint on life.
Now imagine having a conversation in a coffeeshop with a friend and having a ranting, profane, hate-filled lunatic accost you. Easy, right? Call the cops. The problem with internet lunacy is that it's a voluntary association (although, really, a coffeeshop is voluntary too. If you don't like hysterical abusive people, drink your coffee at home.), there are free speech issues at work, and there's that darned anonymity.
But, as they say...somebody ought to do something. I don't know who that would be, and I don't know what they would do to make a more civil society where no one would need to go online to abuse strangers for sport, but it's reminded me of that old Jimmy Cliff song, "Wonderful World, Beautiful People, " which I tragically can't find on You Tube, or I would share it. Because sometimes...people in this wonderful world ain't so beautiful.