Why does adding “cyber” to something make it so different?
So, recently, there was an article on Slashdot about “cyber vigilantes”; “Should Cyber Vigilantes Be Cheered Or Feared?”
Um, does being a troublemaker and scofflaw online make it less bad in some way? I mean, a “cyber” vigilante is still a vigilante. So, shouldn’t the question really be “Should we punish people who take the law in to their own hands?” Isn’t that what the question is really saying? Does it matter that it happened on-line or not? Seriously? When someone shuts down part of the financial system, like the ability of Visa to process credit charges, do we care that the people who did it were on-line or in the street?
I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, a vigilante is a vigilante.
Look, here’s my point; There is NO difference between “cyberspace” and “real life”. There never was.
Why do people still seem to get the idea that we’re different in some key way on-line than we are in person? Do my values change because I’m sitting at a keyboard? Does relative anonymity somehow exempt me from my regular standards of behavior and conduct? No, in short, no, there is no difference.
I have had people say things to me from the safety of an e-mail or forum that they wouldn’t dare say to my face. I know, because if they had, I’d have a criminal record and most likely be paying their hospital bill still. Not that I’m a violent guy, on-line or anywhere else, really, but if I’d been within arm’s reach of some of the miscreants who’ve said things to provoke me, well… Well, let’s just say that your Uncle Jim isn’t easily provoked and that’s best for everyone, okay?
So, riddle me this, dear readers, why do we still persist in the illusion that, somehow, we stop being people because of an intervening computer interface?
And, isn’t it time we stopped that?