Digital age challenges respect, expressions

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With the advent of technology and nanosecond communication, it has been said that the Internet and personal hand-held devices are bringing people closer together.

However, the opposite just may be true. Perhaps these technological advances, upon which many depend on to perform simple tasks, are degrading interpersonal relationships and respect among humans.

Whether one says “lol”, “brb” or “ttys”, there is no doubt that texting, instant messaging, or posting to tumblr and Instagram has created a code of disrespect that alienates spelling, proper grammar, and semantics in the world’s languages in efforts to communicate faster, simpler, and appear on small screens.

Even words like “unfriend” and “YOLO” have been recorded in the Oxford Dictionary, and “GIF” was voted Oxford Dictionary’s 2012 Word of the Year.

Exercising free expression on the Internet and social networking sites also creates a culture of disrespect. Society has changed from interacting with people in person to interacting with a keyboard and video chat. This isn’t bad in some cases as it provided information and inspiration for the Arab Spring and other progressive movements across the globe.
At the same time, however, it can take one post, one glance, or one symbol before somebody accuses another of insulting him or her. Cyber-bullying, intimidation, and insults may be more easily accomplished and more overpowering from across a computer screen than in person.

The respect for privacy is most certainly compromised in the digital age. From young students to older adults, personal thoughts, information, expressions, and photos are shared openly and willingly.

Every post is subject to comment and, unfortunately, to ridicule, criticism, and scrutiny. While some may inspire others, there is a tendency to judge or counter. No matter the conversation, there is an outpour of written expression that supersedes concerns for personal privacy.

It’s hard to take back a decision to show disrespect, especially when it could lead to tragic results. The digital age may have simplified connectivity and provided a greater forum for free expression, but it continues to present challenges to the issue of respect for others and self-respect. The only way to counter and meet these challenges is to be conscious of the power of words and their effect upon others.