OK, first of all: Obama is president. There. I said it. I couldn't do this blog post without mentioning that once, because honestly I need a leg up.
All right, I need to get something else out in the open, as well: Comment sections on the Internet are just getting ridiculous. From the election to personal blog posts to even the Geneva teacher's strike, it's getting pretty petty.
Now, I am a person who firmly believes in exercising your right to express your opinion freely and without the fear of backlash. However, what people forget to realize on the Internet is that every single person has a right to his or her own opinion. What I see all too often, whether it be in the comments section of a YouTube video or a Patch article, people have gone from stating their own mature and rightly executed opinion to degrading each other in any way possible.
There is a distinct difference between stating your own opinion in order to make your voice be heard and intentionally using this opinion to belittle others. I have seen some of the nastiest things on not only Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, but on this site. The comments on Patch range from smart, reasonable critiques of the topics to just generally rude and bullying.
It's weird to think about, but cyber bullying seems to be taking hold in age groups other than pre-teens and high schoolers. Adults who describe themselves as mature, logical and wise have been slandering and mocking each other from behind computer screens since the Internet became popular. A lot of cases of teen cyber bullying came from the encouragement of a parent, as well, which I find to be both horrifying and illogical.
What I'm really trying to express in this blog post is that, yes, we all have a right to share our opinions, and yes, we shouldn't have "Big Brother" censoring us, but let's not confuse expressing our opinion with openly insulting one another. Kids can be cruel, I know, but don't talk to us as if immaturity only exists in our age group. Teenagers and children are not the only, or even the biggest, bullies in our society. All it takes is one ignorant person in a sea of millions to destroy another.
Always mind what you say on the Internet, because being a legal adult does not exempt you from making immature decisions. You don't stop making fun of people once you hit 18 or 21—pettiness, vanity and insecurity don't necessarily fade with age; in my experiences with the adults, those qualities usually just manifest themselves in a different way.
Express your opinion, back up your thoughts, but don't insult others because their opinion differs from yours. We are raised in a country where we can freely express our beliefs without the fear of retribution. So don't mock people for backing an opposing opinion and don’t call out a specific person in a comments section. What we all need to understand is that there is a distinct difference between expressing your beliefs and condemning someone else for having their own.
Finally, I have but one final comment in regards to cyber bullying: Practice what you preach, "role models."