Internet freedom comes with price

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IT is a couple of months since my birthday.

And it is a good few years since I celebrated one.

Thee comes a time in your life when the passage of years is more likely to bring a pang of regret than an onslaught of celebration.

And I passed that point a good few years back.

But there was a time when I relished the day.

The postman’s visit in particular.

I still remember that thrill at opening cards which had travelled the length of the country to pop through the letter box and wish me a happy birthday.

Today, of course, we are spoilt for the means we have at our disposal to keep in touch.

Facebook, Twitter, email...

I even have a friend who invested in a camera so they could see their grand daughter as they spoke to her.

It is a brave new world and getting braver...or is it?

Actually, I think that with the wonderfully empowering side of new technologies has come a darker side.

And it has unearthed a cowardly face of people.

These are the individuals who feel they can say what they like to who they wish, as long as it is done by email.

A prime example reared its ugly head in the last few days with people commenting on the Ched Evans court case who felt they could say what they wanted.

With no boundaries of decency in sight.

They are not alone.

Just look at almost any public internet forum and you will find people who know nothing of a subject suddenly acting as self-appointed experts, willing and ready to criticise others.

I find it distasteful that people feel they can be as abusive and nasty as they wish when sending an email.

Mostly because they believe they cannot be traced.

They hide behind the anonymity of the technology which gives them a voice and abuse the privilege it affords to them.

I reckon there couldn’t be anything more despicable.

Or cowardly.

It is rather like the monster some people become when they climb behind a car steering wheel.

They shout, gesture and curse at others (be they pedestrians or fellow motorists) as though they are some kind of low life.

And it is all because they feel protected by a ton of car bodywork which encapsulates them.

We don’t behave like that when walking down the pavement and someone annoys us by dawdling along, or by dashing across our path.

Similarly they would never dream of walking up to someone and giving them a piece of their mind, in the same way they feel is OK when sending an email.

And all I can conclude is that these people are abject cowards; people who live very small lives which need to be enriched some way. And the only way they can come up with is by being rude and abusive - from a distance.

The internet is a wonderful facility.

It allows us to communicate freely and instantly.

But surely this freedom should come with a price.

And that’s easy to evaluate: it’s the cost of simple manners.

By the way, if you want to comment on this, my email is paul.license@thestar.co.uk – but please keep it polite.

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