Posted in 365 Days of Blogging

Day 124: “But it’s a public website!!!”

This sentence has been used to justify a hell of a lot of harassment and other bullshit on tumblr, twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, basically any website to ever exist. I fucking hate it.

You know why?

Because it’s straight bullshit!

Look at it this way, if you see a group of friends sitting together at a picnic table in the park having a conversation, you wouldn’t just walk up to them, listen to the last three lines of the conversation, and then proceed to offer your irrelevant and completely out of context opinions, would you? You wouldn’t get pissed at them for reacting adversely to your attempt at offering unsolicited advice?

If someone is in their yard talking to a friend and you’re walking by on the sidewalk and overhear a snippet of a conversation you don’t like, you wouldn’t take a picture of them and the address on their mailbox, make fliers about what a horrible person they are and post them all around the neighborhood, would you? You wouldn’t dig through the trash they put on the sidewalk for pickup looking for something that you believe makes them look bad and post that information around the neighborhood, right? You wouldn’t hand that information over to someone you know has been harassing/stalking that person for god knows how long and then sit back and watch the show, correct?

Most halfway decent people would never dream of doing these things. Why? Because even though that group of friends is in a public park, their conversation is still for them and them alone and trying to barge in on it would be rude as hell to do. Because even though that person you don’t like has their address on their mailbox, that doesn’t give you the right to tell every living soul where they live. Because even though even though their trash is on the sidewalk, that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable for you to go digging through it looking for personal information. Because handing information over to harassers and stalkers is an absolutely horrific thing to do.

What absolutely kills me is that while a vast majority of people follow these basic freaking rules in “real life,” common sense goes out the fucking window once they sit down at a computer.

I see people invade the personal space of others on a daily basis and they do it unapologetically with the “but it’s a public website” excuse.

So here’s my question for all the folks who love to barge in on conversations and harass the hell out of people online.

Why is it ok for you to do those things on a website but not ok to do those things in a park or on the sidewalk? I mean, shit, they’re public. What’s the difference?



I'm a simple single mom living a complicated life.

One thought on “Day 124: “But it’s a public website!!!”

  1. I think part of it is also that people think that because they can access a site, it must be a public space (and then protected by the First Amendment – even in sites hosted outside the U.S.). So, on the Internet, whatever they’re typing becomes this really important thing that must be read by everyone. To not pay attention is to embrace censorship, tyranny, and join the ranks of the depraved soulless [insert whatever hated group here].

    My hope is that maybe this lack of common sense that you describe is just part of the learning curve that humanity has to go through when revolutionary technology comes about. People have been writing stupid stuff everywhere since writing was invented, but maybe now that it’s easier to do, we’re noticing that public interactions might not always be governed by good sense. Hopefully future generations of people will look back at this time and say, “Never again,” to some of it.


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