Why the Internet can be useful and cruel at the same time

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Image by: Tom Solari/techgeek.com.au

OPINION: The Internet is a marvellous place where we can all communicate instantly without waiting several weeks to communicate internationally, or when we need something instant. But the true power of the internet is always in a major breaking story – such as a natural disaster.

This year, we have seen three: the Floods in Queensland, the Earthquake in New Zealand and the powerful tsunami-and-earthquake combo in Japan. And the Internet has made it easy to communicate necessary information.

While Twitter was used for the floods in order to disprove myths and even send out necessary information (we did our part as well on our Twitter feed); in Japan, the Internet was used to not only disseminate information via Twitter, but due to the geographical landscape of Japan, also broadcast NHK and two other television stations via the Ustream and other platforms in order to keep them up to date. Google also helped by making it easier to help find people – such as they did with the earthquake in Christchurch.

In addition with information, everyone on Twitter send their prayers with the hashtag #prayforjapan.

But, like everything, there is a downside with every disaster.

Of course, we will keep seeing those who exploit the disaster for their own interests: such as those conspiracy nuts spewing that the end of the world is nigh, or that this is the start of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as spelt out in the Bible. I’m sorry, but if I’m going to believe you, you’ll need credible and scientific evidence for me to believe that – not some religious text which could be fictional.

However, I was stunned to read this:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/TroyHoban/status/46356405539704832″]

… or read these, provided to you via the marvellous OpenBook (which brings to another unrelated point, FIX YOUR SECURITY SETTINGS ON FACEBOOK!!):

Of course, while I don’t usually publically shame people (on techgeek.com.au), I do find it horrendous that people would think that this is simply karma for bombing Pearl Harbour. A natural disaster compared to something in World War II, something obviously man-made. Really? What about the fact that you bombed them twice with nuclear weaponry? Or even better, what about the fact that you helped their economy and then crashed the entire world’s economy? But no, a natural disaster that costs over 1,000 lives and that could rise exponentially is simply karma?

The fact these comments were made were obviously signs that they forgot that these are in the public arena. But still, these are horrendous comments. If every natural disaster occurred because we have done something bad to the United States, then was the New Zealand earthquake was karma for New Zealand for implementing a nuclear-free zone, affecting the United States’ nuclear program in the 1980s? Well, no. Unless you are really an idiot to believe that.

I have two words to say to you, and I am very sorry to other readers who find this out of character: f**k you!

These people (though it is very questionable), however, detract us from the main story. That Japan faces several problems – first with the nuclear reactors in its country, and the fact that it has a large budget deficit and braces for the worst, both in the disaster and economically. And with heartbreaking footage that has been screened on news bulletin after news bulletin – all sourced from NHK, the Japanese public broadcaster – the devastation is simply to hard to watch.

So while we understand the economic climate and donations to both Christchurch and Brisbane, we urge everyone to simply find some cash they have, such as some spare change, to help Japan in their hour of need.