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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Another Boredom Movement

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What will it take for us to be taken seriously?

There is a huge wave of semi-panicked individuals (generally politicians and journalists) who are scared of anything the 'Internet' does. Many of these so-called professionals seem to think the entire web is in cahoots, ready to steal their money, their identities and quite possibly their babies. From the outside looking in, it looks as if they feel there's an inherent danger simply in people coming together, whatever the cause.

Frankly, I find this trend disturbing.

If we ignore the fact that the internet generally finds little to unite over other than pictures of cats with bad grammar, there seems to be a subtle shift in perception toward the ability of people to share ideas and organize action toward that end. If the end goal is some sort of tangible result, people tend to shift uncomfortably in their seats, as if the cyber-boogeymen are coming for them next.

A perfect example of potential good vs. virtual anarchy was fully realized this past week or two with the tale of legal action between the website Funnyjunk and Matthew Inman, proprietor of the webcomic 'The Oatmeal.' To give a bit of background, Funnyjunk was rehosting Inman's comics without permission. Inman called them on it, and they took down some, but not all of them. At this point, Inman didn't bother with getting all of them taken down, but did make a scathing statement about Funnyjunk making money off ads with his comics. This story should have ended right here, but then again, greedy people never end a story well.Funnyjunk actually had the gall to demand $20,000 in damages from his remarks stating that they had 'practically stolen my entire website and mirrored it on Funnyjunk.' Inman immediately responded to the letter by writing out a lengthy rebuttal that included links to hundreds of his comics being hosted without permission on Funnyjunk. Rightfully indignant about this ridiculous lawsuit, Inman took things a step further, starting a charity drive for cancer research and wildlife preservation with a goal of, you guessed it, $20,000. However, the catch was that Inman drew a picture depicting Funnyjunk's lawyer Charles Carreon's mother, erm, 'propositioning' a bear. This picture would be sent to Funnyjunk in lieu of the money they had demanded.

As of this writing, the 'BearLove Good, Cancer Bad' drive has netted over $200,000 since the beginning of June.

That is a fantastic example of the internet taking something stupid and turning it into a good thing.

But there's always, always, some that will take a good thing and turn it back into a ridiculously immature thing. After Inman's letter to Mr. Carreon was published, Carreon was insistent that Inman's charity drive was against California state law. He was trying to take down a charity that had started at his (and his poor mother's) expense. Obviously, this didn't settle terribly well with the hordes of keyboard vigilantes. Carreon has been subject to all types of prankery, ranging from mass pizza deliveries to the staple hate mail and voice messages.

Two things bother me here:Number one, Carreon blames Inman for inciting his fans to acts of 'cyber-vandalism.'Number two, Inman's fans actually committed many of said acts.

Internet, this is why people are scared of us. You took what was an already slippery situation and pushed it all the way downhill. People aren't going to remember the money that was raised, albeit with fairly malicious intent. What those nervous politicians and journalists are going to remember is that the internet is capable of incredible acts of destruction. Matthew Inman's philanthropic, mischievous endeavor never asked for such a scorched-earth response. All he asked for was your money to go to a good cause, and that's that, but we just couldn't take the mature way out.

Interwebs, we don't have to be a feared entity to get a point across. The more we take things out of proportion and act on knee-jerk, anonymity-fueled vigilantism, the more that the public will see us as a dangerous entity that needs to be controlled.

With the free flow of information and ideas comes great responsibility. We are a sea of awesome ideas and concepts that we could introduce into our society, but if we can't garner the respect of those not directly a part of our cyber-generation, we're hurting our own potential in the end.

Aaron Waite is a noted author and contributor...BAHAHA! I'm sorry, I couldn't finish that sentence with a straight face.

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