Thursday, September 10, 2009


Most of us who carry on an online existence are aware of Internet pitfalls in the form of hacking, spamming, snarking and stalking, but have we really contemplated the impact of our tech empowered words?

It amazes the heck out of me how fast information travels these days with the aid of the Internet and social networks. Combine the Internet with television, radio, and attached at the nip cell phones, and by golly, the power of communication is overwhelming. The Internet exhibits lawlessness rivaled only by the wild, Wild West with its "anything goes" society and culture.

After reading today's deluge of articles about republican congressman Joe Wilson's grand misstep last night during President O'bama's congressional healthcare address, it really hit home just how potent the Internet and social networking has become.

I'm continually fascinated by the basic power that web sites such as Facebook, Myspace and Blogger wield... but sites such as iReport and Twitter have really stepped up the sharing process to a whole new level; a level yet to be completely realized. The sheer speed of response parlayed straightaway over Wilson's heckled "You lie!" is astounding. It's disturbing that 2 words can immediately make someone an Internet sensation. Come morning, one never knows what you’ll wake up to online after a few Z’s.

Not to defend Wilson's rude and disrespectful outburst, but its serious when user generated web sites such as Wikipedia are forced to restrict the defamatory remarks posted about him. Justified or not, it's scary when sites like can be quickly constructed and open for business with the sole purpose of poking fun at Joe Wilson's expense… Or conversely, on the heels of his apology to President O'bama, Joe Wilson's speedy solicitation of cash to fend off attacks from political opponents on his web page today, geared toward those who are now holding him up as some kind of folk hero. And what about the efficiency of the Democratic Party and the 2010 democratic contender for Joe Wilson's job, raking in overnight, hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions, no doubt accomplished through Internet means?

Now that's power... power at every persons fingertips... power of communication and condemnation... power to influence, to shape opinions and to excite the masses... power that plays on emotions and emotional reactions... power that is pretty much unchecked. Power that signifies just how easy people can be stirred up, much like lighting a fuse to a powder keg that ignites a wild fire.

We don't really know what's to become of all this instant sharing we do. Seems to me that it's not too far of a stretch for any emotional online frenzy to jump track and be taken to the streets.

Brings to mind just how responsible we all need to be with what we post online and how unqualified most of us are to sport such freedom of speech. It's not just about relaying the truth and being heard. It's about looking at the big picture, and keeping in mind the strength of our words and what they might instigate and generate.

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