The consequences of online behavior.
In the early 2000's, the United States government asked the FBI to initiate a covert worldwide investigation into online behavior. This investigation was so secret that not even the FBI was given access to all the information. The FBI was led to believe that this was just a harmless census, but the hidden reason behind it could not be more serious. The investigation involved reading online communications in games, forums and especially chat rooms. The gist of the questions behind this investigation were, 'What is happening on the internet? Is it a dangerous place? Are there safe places on the internet? If so, how many, and how safe?'. The FBI did an outstanding job in their investigation. Not only did they read online communications, they tested them using fake online aliases. They found that most places were very unsafe, full of online bullying and a wide range of destructive behavior that had a ripple effect on society. Places that claimed to be safe zones, turned out to be the most dangerous of all. But there were some exceptions. Towards the end of the investigation, the FBI were asked to give a brief overview of how it was going along. They told the government that, while the situation looked bad overall, it looked like there were some (very few) safe zones on the internet. That's when the United States government changed their tune. They provided additional resources, and asked the FBI to test those safe zones and see if they could crack them, whether in terms of compromising their security measures or the integrity of the administrators themselves. And that's what they did. At the end of their investigation, they found that while most safe zones were easily cracked, they found a minority that their best attempts just couldn't break through. That minority turned out to be chat rooms that I myself had set up, wrote bots for, and taught administrators how to moderate. The final conclusion of the investigation was, 'While the internet was largely unsafe, a few safe zones were found that we just couldn't crack. Further investigation and monitoring of online behavior urgently recommended'. It wasn't until the FBI completed their investigation (this is going back a while, I think it lasted a year and a half), that the hidden reason for it was explained. The United States government already believed that the internet was a dangerous place. They wanted an independent investigation to see whether there were ANY safe zones on the internet. If there were no such safe zones found, it was their intent on cracking down on the internet and heavily policing it. In the aftermath, many forums and chat networks voluntarily closed down in fear of what was to come, including the mightly Microsoft Network Chat (MSN Chat, the pioneer of emoticons and what is now known as Windows Live), who's own heavily moderated System Operator rooms were found to be unsafe. All the problems we see now with SOPA, PIPA, the Great Firewall of China and Operation Clean Feed, are nothing compared to how close it was back then. And no-one even knows it.
It's the job of government to babysit the population, writing laws that steer culture into something that merges civilization with human nature. The purpose of government is to empower and teach mankind to govern itself. Government is supposed to be there to remove the need for government. Due to the short lifespan of a human and it's genetic diversity, it only takes one psychopath to sneak into the constant reshuffling of power and corrupt the whole thing. Our current governments are full of such psychopaths that confuse defence with oppression. They look for excuses to oppress and control in the name of protecting something. In the case of the internet, a large part of the defence excuse is 'for the children' and 'to stop terrorism'. But the truth is, it's nothing more than an excuse to censor the internet and keep the population in the dark. Government in its corrupted form, is there for the sole purpose of perpetual power. Power is an irresistable drug to a psychopath.
Keep all this in mind when you act like an asswipe on the internet. Just because you can't get your ass kicked in person, doesn't make it right. It just makes you a bigger asswipe and a coward. How you behave on the internet has a direct effect on real people, and affects society as a whole. By abusing internet freedoms, you're only encouraging your governments to remove those freedoms. The internet is the greatest empowerment tool mankind has ever seen. While every single civilization of the past has fallen, our current civilization hangs in the balance, at the moment of success or failure. This time, it has the power to destroy the planet itself. Failure is not an option. To lose the internet is to lose the only thing that prevents World War Three and the extinction of all life on Earth: Access to information. Governments cannot oppress through widescale war like they once did, due to how easy it is to expose them. Governments are held in check by large numbers of informed citizens that can overthrow them. Lose the internet, and you lose everything.
Some current issues to consider...
Today, I read an article referring to a recent announcement made by the North Korean government about online bullying. To deal with the problem, they announced a plan to limit online gaming access to 2 hours per day.
In china, the situation is even worse, with plans to somehow enforce 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per hour of gameplay.
In Australia, there's a government plan to put a blanket over the entire internet, monitoring every single action and blocking access to anything the government deems inappropriate. The block list is to be monitored by the government itself, and not even the high court can gain access to it. In a controversial trial, conscience got the better of some, and the list was leaked. It was indeed found to show what most already suspected: While the block list was supposedly created to protect children from online predators, it was nothing more than an umbrella excuse to covertly censor incriminating evidence against the government.
Even Google threatened to pull out of both China and Australia due to these serious abuses of rights.
Recently, a womans best friend said to her on facebook, 'Your value as a person isn't in how much love you give, but how much you are loved'. She read it and killed herself.
Every day, a new plan is made to censor the internet. Every day, a new asswipe gives them an excuse. Every day, you lose more of your rights. For every freedom you abuse, you will lose. And the rest of us are left to suffer the consequences. Meanwhile, those like myself are out defending the freedoms that you abuse.
If you're an asswipe on the internet, you're plainly and simply, an asswipe. How you behave under internet anonymity is a reflection of your true colors. If you think you deserve the internet, start acting like it and respect the freedom it offers.