A few years back I made the decision to take a month off for a vacation that would "exercise my mind" if you will. I wanted to soak up some culture and my friends in San Francisco assured me there was no more diverse place than there so I went out to spend the month.
After a couple weeks though I began to realize that not only was the place not diverse but it seemed to be the home of more uniformity of thought than I'd ever seen (which was impressive in that sense). In fact, to quote hard facts, in the 2004 election (which was close at the time) the nation was split right down the middle as far as party support but San Francisco only had a 15% Republican vote.
Bottom Line: People there agree with each other on just about everything, for better or worse.
This experience taught me a very important lesson which is that everyone wants to think they are accepting and open minded but most people aren't. In fact, actually being open minded is very hard. Sort of like bending your elbow backwards in that you are trying to force yourself to do something you were simply not designed to do.
Think about it, close mindedness is as much a product of evolution as your elbow. In a land where humans haven't developed high level thinking yet compromise is impossible. Which means the only way to survive is by having a group mentality. Because if you think like your tribe than you'll be willing to fight for your tribe and if you're willing to fight for your tribe than your tribe remains defended which ensures your continued survival.
The problem is that thousands of years later we are stuck with brains that are designed to form impressions early and then remain entrenched in those positions no matter what.
Which brings me to my quote. Cyndy Aleo-Carreira wrote an article yesterday entitled "Misuse of Social Media: Social Implies Human Interaction, People!" in which she gave a few examples of what she feels is "misuse". One example was this passage written by Charlie Demerjiana in regards to the suicide of Eddie Davidson, a spammer who killed his wife and child before taking his own life.
While it is hard not to feel bad for his brutally murdered wife and child, not to mention his wounded daughter, Eddie's suicide itself is the stuff of happy thoughts. Every deceased spammer is a million fewer in-box-clogging, malware-infested mails a day, so lets tip one back for liberal gun laws.
To which Ms. Alea-Carreira responded...
Yes, by all means, let's tip one back for liberal gun laws that seriously wounded a teenager, killed a three-year-old little girl, and left a 7-month-old baby in a hot truck, dehydrated. I've often suggested stringing spammers up by their toes and letting anyone with an email account play piñata, but I don't recall ever even suggesting that it involve an innocent toddler. Eddie Davidson's death isnt anything that should be celebrated, even if you do consider spammers to be wasting the oxygen they breathe.
What she's missing here is that not everyone expresses themselves in exactly the same way she does. It's not really acceptable for a man to speak emotionally about a tragedy in many cultures. So when the author in the quote says "While it is hard not to feel bad for his brutally murdered wife and child" that person is expressing shock and sadness in as deep a way as his cultural upbringing will probably allow.
In that way the person is expressing the exact same thought as Ms. Aleo-Carreira but they are doing it in a way that is acceptable to a different culture.
As far as "Celebrating Eddie Davidson's death" some cultures believe that is justified. It's a basic tenet of almost every religion that bad people are put to death for some crimes and while I would agree that Mr. Davidson's crime doesn't warrant death in my eyes I understand there are cultures in which they would feel it was. Further I understand that those cultures have a right to the Internet just as anyone else does.
Which is what gets me to my point. Ms. Aleo-Carreira's point is essentially "I strongly disagree with how these people think so that makes their expression of those thoughts a misuse of Social Media" which in turn is actually saying "People who aren't like me in thought, action and expression are undesirables."
Essentially its closed mindedness masquerading as tolerance.
As the Internet becomes more and more widespread you are going to see more and more culture clashes like this. That fact is both a blessing and a curse. The curse is that it means people with delicate sensibilities are going to need to either isolate themselves or develop much thicker skin.
But the blessing is that it gives us all a chance to influence cultures we don't agree with.
What people like Ms Alea-Carreira need to realize is that condemning others culture doesn't do any good. If you want to influence other cultures you have to accept them on their terms and then try to show them why your way is better. Not call them bad and denounce them.
No one ever changed their opinion after being denounced by a total stranger.