It’s on the Internet. It’s got to be true.†

Before I say anything else, Im no professional journalist, I just happen to like writing for a small audience. Therefore, please do not crucify me if I come across the wrong way (whichever way that is). Its not my intention at all.†

When I was young, and yes, that makes me feel old, we didn’t have social media, we didn’t have Facebook - and for that matter, we didn’t even have this thing called Internet. Back then, when Internet was in its infancy, we called it world wide web…. as I said, I feel really old now. My first computer, a Toshiba laptop didnt even have Internet Explorer - that came years later. All a laptop could do back then, was Solitaire and writing Word-documents! Its somehow hard to fathom when we see the technology we surround ourselves with today, and how dependent we have become upon it.†Anyway, I have previously written about my experiences on cruiseships a long ago, when we typed those Interoffice Memos on typewriters and used a copy machine to duplicate the standard format. I have also written about the first time I logged on to the world wide web, back in autumn of 1998, and at that time, there wasn’t too many websites, and the few that were, they were heavily loaded with simple gif-animations.†

But, now, I would like to write a little about our social media and what, and how, we all express ourselves in groups on Facebook, forums, web-boards and in other discussion places.†

“A chicken quickly becomes ten hens”, and “I think” can really become “a fact” when it propagates throughout the net. I especially saw this for example in the campaign towards saving Kong Olav some years back. A lot of people, all ages, and from many places, wrote what they thought about different ideas, and a few days, or weeks later, I came across the same “news” but now it has become a “fact”. The intention from most were indeed good, but I suppose we sometimes fail to realize that when someone remembers something they have read before, a rumor quickly becomes a fact. This is a problem, I think. I read an article online about Wikipedia, where this is a major problem too: there is very little background checks on the sources, or whether the information people share is true, or let’s say, a rumor. In ten or twenty years time, or as more time passes, the harder the fact-checking will be - if not too late. †

There is a certain danger to this, as things might get absorbed up into history and become remembered as “the way things were”, while at the same time, they are also far from the actual truth. I believe writing a book 50 years ago would be easier in one way, but now, you really have to work hard to get the facts straight - especially, if you use Internet as a source.†

I most definitely don’t want people to stop exchanging ideas and stories, because that is the brilliant thing about being online - online brainstorming and sharing -, but I would really like people to be extremely prudent and very careful, and check the wording of what they say, before posting things. If it is their opinion, please do say so. If it is a fact, say from where you got the information, and why you are in the know. Also, anything you write, might be dissected into oblivion if you write between the lines. People are quick to draw conclusions based upon how they read the information.†

The worst examples of this that I have experienced personally, is a “someone's personal opinion-moment” later circulated in the press as a “confirmed fact”. With Internet, Facebook, and Twitter, or any other groups of whatever kind, finding the truth and the correct information is literally impossible. Anybody with a keyboard, no matter what age, social class or standing, or no matter which opinion, have the ability to become a part of history by spreading assumptions and their wildest opinions, to then later becoming a fact.†

You would think a particular age group is worse than others, but as far as I can see, there really isn’t. A young teenager however, normally hangs out in other groups than the older generation. But, they can be equally mistaken. In the groups I sometimes wonder, I must admit that people which should have known better, are actually the worst group. The reasons for this, is my personal opinion, not necesarrily correct, they never grew up with such a listening crowd - now they come online, and suddenly a lot of people will listen to their rants on this and that.†

And from here, from spreading assumptions, the road to bullying is surprisingly short. Just take a look at discussion-fields in local papers, people that have never met each other, are calling each other (bad) names based on a few lines of argument. They can write things they would never say to a person if that person was standing right in front of them. If for example an aircraft, or a Hurtigruten-ship, or even a ferry, cancels service due to for exapmple inclement weather, any young teenager, or adult, might sit comfortably in his bedroom and blatantly question the operators decision to cancel service - not even knowing or understanding quality assurance systems, concerns or other limitations. How in the world, can a person which does not even have years of experience, nor the qualifications to obtain a particular position, be feelign qualified enough to voice their opinion on the case? These are now known as “trolls” - people who are out to get attention, to make a storm out of nothing, by forcing a heated discussion. Normally, as we know, these are generally severely negative comments.†

I have like many others seen some pretty bad comments online, and the scary thing is, this is probably just the beginning. Bullying is now a very hot topic in Norway, the elephant in the room, but also in it’s various forms, it’s also something that is not only found in our schools, but also all around us in different forms online. That is the downside to this one-sided communication.

We really need to start questioning this behaviour and trend - we need to reinvent mutual respect and common courtesy. We need to re-learn to commuicate again in a much more polite and respectful manner - looking at our information, and sources, more subjectively, and at the same time be really careful how we say things, or how we place the words. It’s like a friend of mine says: he can tell me to go to a dark, but†fiery, place, and at the same time make me look forward to getting there. That is the power of how we say things.†

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