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“Keyboards embolden us all.” But Is That a Good Thing?

“Keyboards embolden us all.”

I ran across a phrase this afternoon while working on a new article for work. While at first, it seemed innocuous enough, I quickly became attached to it. I couldn’t stop thinking about. I couldn’t just leave it alone.

keyboard-grenadeAs a fairly early adopter of Social Media, I have seen “Keyboards embolden us all” grow in its ferocity. When speech is separated from consequence, it becomes quite the deadly weapon – one that can damage companies, institutions, as well as the people in and around them. With little or no consequence, hate is delivered with the stroke of a key and sent into the ether to smack its mark. But where is the accountability? Who answers for this abuse? No one.

People and even dastardly organizations can hide behind false profiles and dummy accounts to degrade, demean and even destroy any target of their choosing. No longer are espionage and deceit the tools of secret societies and “closed door” Government organizations. Your worst enemy may be a simple, soulless hack tweaking his or her jollies all alone by the greenish glow of their flat screen.

In many cases, social media has been the best and the worst thing to happen to communication since the formation of the alphabet. On one hand, it opens a world of connectivity where Kathie the retiree from Tempe and Karl the laborer from Lithuania can be pen pals, confidants, comforting support and even lovers. Over the space of 7,000 miles or more, Kathie and Karl are closer than my grandparents were living under the same roof. On the other hand, there’s the unknown. Kathie, for all intents and purposes thinks Karl is a simple divorcee, a good man, living in a 2 bedroom flat in the eastern Block, looking for a little companionship and tips on making great crock-pot stroganoff. But in reality, Karl is sending a worm through Kathie’s computer, reading her emails, downloading her bank account information, and setting up a malware hack to send his bustling porn site links out to all of Kathie’s friends, family and associates. And Kathie will be left to blame.

Dastardly.

And what’s worse are those that don’t hide, the ones that spit, spew, and puke out the green, vile pus of disgust, deception, profanity, hate, and racism. No hidden ulterior motive, no disguise, no remorse, they just click away, reveling in the discourse. I don’t consider that bold by any means.

“Keyboards embolden us all,” gives the modern culture of conversation – of relation – a free ticket; a free ticket to be as loving, caring, supportive, and generous as possible. Through one simple keyboard I’ve participated in everything from education innovation to business-building. Through one simple keyboard I’ve been a part of events broader and deeper than I ever could have imagined – for friends, for strangers, for the better. Through one simple keyboard I’ve seen lives change as well as lives saved. But the mirror has two sides.

“Keyboards embolden us all,” is powerful. What do you plan to do with that power?

Food for thought. *click-out*

Andrew B. Clark,
The Brand Chef

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