Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Blame the Internet
Reporter Richard Lloyd Parry asks an interesting question:
But what about Naomi and little Koyuki Tanaka and the 14 teenagers who are known to have died in cyber suicide pacts? Would they not be alive now, if it were not for the Internet?
Mr. Parry here refers to a mother who apparently strangled her own six year old child before travelling to meet strangers to participate in a suicide pact. It's easy to think that if people didn't have access to the net, they wouldn't participate in pacts and that they would therefore still be alive. And one would like to think that in such a situation a mother wouldn't turn and kill her own six year old daughter. But there's no way of knowing for certain that that is how it would turn out; who is to say that Naomi wouldn't have decided to kill her kid and then go hang herself somewhere alone? And more interestingly, why is it in all this alarm about pacts made on the net that people appear to be essentially ignoring those aspects of the lives of those who suicide which motivated them to suicide in the first place? I've yet to meet anyone who simply woke up one day and decided, out of the blue, that it was time to die.

What's the message here? Mr. Parry clucks that the Japanese have not found a "balance" of the Internet's potential to facilitate "communication and destruction" If both entities being compared to each other are in "balance", then they are effectively canceling each other out; that is, there is as much of the one being promoted as the other. Is that what Mr. Parry wants? Is that what he and people who agree with him are willing to accept? How would one quantify the two aspects to determine whether or not they are even close to being balanced?

I would like to suggest to the critics of the Internet and how people use it that if there is an imbalance in how the net is being used that it is an imbalance inherent in the human culture, and that attempts to stifle what one considers to be a misuse of a tool of communication by censoring that tool in no way addresses whatever underlying problems there are with how people behave toward one another.

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