I dashed this one off in response to an editorial that took the familiar tone that the internet was an especially scary place. They ran it, and without change as far as I could tell. Maybe I should have been a lawyer after all.

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Subject: Letter to the Editor

The news media try to keep claiming the internet has a unique and awful culture. Sadly, there is nothing new under the sun, and cyberspace is but an image of reality, warts and all.

We've been warned about the dangers of child molesters and pornographers in cyberspace; both were around long before the first computer was conceived, let alone built. We worry about marriages being wrecked by illicit computer relationships, yet spouses have run away with another since the dawn of humanity. Teenage boys were vandals and gang members long before they were hackers and cyberpunks. Never trust a stranger is an admonition that applies no more on the internet than in person.

Now comes the outcry over a chat group that had only a few members turn in a member over an online murder confession. Have we forgotten that people have been attacked and murdered in front of a crowd while bystanders did nothing? I don't defend any of the bad that occurs via the internet, but I simply remind you that it isn't any different than what has gone on before the internet. I suppose that it isn't news that human nature is no different in person than by electronic proxy, but please don't claim that the internet is to blame for the dark side of human behavior. We don't blame the mirror for how we look, so so why blame the internet for how we act.

Kevin Murphy

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This page last updated 19 May 1998

Contents copyright Kevin Murphy 1998. All rights reserved.