Monday, January 19, 2004

A Not Particularly Original Thought on Dr. King Day

Around this time of year I always ponder how much progress we've made toward Dr. King's dream of a world where people are judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.

And my standard answer to this is to look at the internet and say, "not bad."

Because, really, I have a boatload of internet friends (and/or acquaintances) -- the great majority of which I didn't know anything about in a demographic sense until we'd already become pals.

I'm not just talking race here. Also gender, orientation, age, disability, class, occupation -- all them things that go into your initial impression of someone. Yeah, I hate to throw around loaded words like "prejudice" -- but I think we all tend, to some degree, to make a preliminary judgment about someone based on these characteristics. (Hopefully, we don't let it get in the way, and we're open to refining the judgment based on actually KNOWING the person.)

And on the internet, you don't have that -- not if the person at the other end of the screen doesn't want to give you that information. You instead make your initial judgment about someone based on their spelling, their grammar, whether they know how to punctuate "its," and -- and this is the big one -- the content of their thoughts. My initial impressions of folks I meet on the 'net tend to be "that person is smart," "that person is funny," "that person is perceptive," "that person is kind," rather than, "Oh, hey, a 45-year old white guy with a blue collar job."

I know that I have made friends on the internet with some people who I probably wouldn't have if I'd seen them before getting to know them. (Generally because I would have thought them too young or too old to be someone I'd get along well with.) Now, what this says about me has certainly led to many hours of self-examination regarding my own biases -- but I've gotta see the fact that I *did* make friends with these folks as a great big gold star for the internet. Because the internet shows you FIRST what Dr. King wanted you to see -- the person beyond the surface.


andreakingme said...

My perception of Zorb Girl prior to her sharing the vacay photos: adventurous (obviously), intelligent, witty, cautious and insightful. I always picture female people like what I just described in my mind as dark-haired and highly in tune with life around them -- as if they have the same personality in Real Life that they do in print.

I like the pictures painted by the words. So much so that I'm sure it's a detriment.

katyu1987 said...

I'm glad that you made friends with the people on the internet. I have too many wonderful happy memories of goofy stuff from our 'real life' experiences that we'd never have done.

You are a good friend, nzforme.


nzforme said...