Thursday, May 10, 2018


Where has all the kindness gone? I believe it is still here, and that it never left. Complaining about negativity on the internet is still negativity itself, and does not help anyone. It is ridiculous to think that social media is the cause of hostility; it merely reveals what was already there. The internet was made by humans and it is used to communicate human values such as knowledge, kindness, and sadly also hatred. The internet does not make people hateful, it gives people who were already hateful a voice with which to express themselves.

In the past, only the richest and most educated people were able to reach a wide audience via the written word. Today, however, nearly everyone has the freedom to express their innermost thoughts, no matter how poorly researched or how flippantly expressed. In centuries gone by, the written word took effort to produce. Since then, we have gone from scribes to printing presses to the internet. Now, the written word has become an effortless way to express oneself.

Hateful people have always existed. Uneducated people have always existed. Selfish people who can’t be bothered to consider anyone else’s point of view have always existed. The internet just gives them a voice, and prioritizes inflammatory content. Make no mistake, this darkness has always been a part of the human race. But now it is being capitalized on by websites trying to maximize advertisement revenue. Every minute of time that is spent on a website translates directly to the income of these websites, and nothing draws attention like controversy. This is why tabloid newspapers sell so well, why conspiracy theories get so much attention, and why the internet appears to be filled with hatred. As much as we don’t like it, outrage sells. The internet isn’t selling manufactured outrage, however. The outrage is real, and authenticity also sells. Because websites benefit so much from this negativity, they subtlety push it to viewers. People engage with posts that are controversial, so they spread.

From the outside, it may look as though the internet is an awful hive of anger, controversy, and pointless arguments. The reality, however, is that a vocal minority have been enabled and encouraged to post this negativity because people share it and that makes money. Kindness is not gone. Happy stories don’t make the front page of newspapers as often as outrage, but that does not mean that mankind has gone cruel and heartless.

The internet is a reflection of the human consciousness on a grand scale, and writers who complain that the internet is killing kindness are actually complaining that they have seen humanity as it really is. The internet did not invent racism, bigotry, political polarization, or conspiracies. They have always existed, but the internet makes it personal. Nobody likes to find out that their family is racist, or believes political propaganda, or has a bad temper. The internet puts these flaws and more in the public spotlight. Because the internet is new, it’s easy to point an accusing finger at it. But today’s generation is not hopeless, we’re just young. The internet is not killing kindness, it’s merely revealing the negativity that was already there. Kind people still exist. As cynical as I am, I have not given up on humanity’s compassion quite yet.

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