People can get really bent out of shape at the idea of having their Internet filtered, and on some level, I totally get it. I’ve always devoured the written word with voracity, reading everything I could get my hands on, and I believe that, in order to really understand our world and its inhabitants, we have to dissect and experience all aspects of man’s creation. My strong desire to understand the world I live in has made me a staunch opponent of censorship. I hate when art gets banned, and I am almost personally offended when books like “The Catcher in The Rye,” “The Color Purple”, or “1984” are taken from the shelves. So why, then, does a person devoutly against censorship laud the benefits of web filtering?
- People are gross, and mental images are basically permanent. Most of the time (at least in the case of literature), disturbing scenes exist to drive home a point and are necessary for the reader to really empathize with the characters. When the book is finished, the reader can reflect on everything without being mentally scarred for life. There’s a particularly disturbing rape scene in “A Clockwork Orange” that made the hair on my arms stand up when I read it, but when I think about it now, I just remember it as a vividly described act of sexual violence in a novel about crime, redemption, and the cost of rehabilitation. On the Internet, however, there are videos of people being raped. They may be staged, they may not be, but regardless of their origins, one thing is for sure: a video of a person being raped stays with someone and affects them a lot longer and a lot deeper than reading about a fictional circumstance.
- Predators. The Internet was just becoming a common household staple when I was in sixth grade. The big things at the time were AOL Instant Messaging and Chat Rooms. My friends and I used to pretend to be college students in these chat rooms at the ripe old age of twelve, and we used to get into all kinds of shenanigans that we didn’t really understand at the time. We were always one wrong piece of information away from serious danger, from the adult man who, even after we confessed we were two twelve-year-olds sent us his picture and asked us to send ours to him, and when he received that, asked us to follow up with pictures of us playing with each other’s feet, to the other men wanting to “meet up”. I cringe when I think of what could have happened, and what happens frequently today when the Internet is used to entrap the young and the vulnerable.
- Limits keep us focused. Have you ever tried to accomplish a task in an environment with zero restrictions and endless distractions? It’s hard. Even doing something you love becomes excessively more difficult to slog through when you have an entire world of distractions at your fingertips. With an Internet filter, you can at least keep the tangents educational, safe, and somewhat productive.
There is no shortage of reasons why filtering your Internet is a good idea. The Internet is an amazing, life-changing tool, but it’s also a place for the dregs of humanity. Without effective regulations of what is allowed on the Internet, it can be a disaster waiting to happen.