With the rise of of Web 2.0 and a generation of increasing reliance and involvement on the internet, came the extreme speedy spread of information. And this is not just information disseminated from established and popular media sources like newspapers but even from the person on the street, who now holds the power to cause any newsworthy information to spread like wildfire through bits and bytes.
The Bane of Evil-Doers?
We can all see this clearly in the recent cases of scandals involving celebrities, but don't worry, this won't be another tirade on them. But the bigger picture is this, such scandals would have a much less damaging effect on the affected parties say just 5 years ago. Perhaps people would learn about it if they bought one of those gossip magazines or if they religiously followed the news (which is rare among the new generation). However, in current times, such news spread exponentially faster through other means like through friends, forums and social media sites. This amplifies the damage done and in a shorter period of time.
And it is not just the spreading of information that damages, but the equally fast feedback and publishing of views and condemnation that fuels the fire further. Being able to debate and discuss such issues creates even greater interest and awareness, which leads to multiplier effects like the creation of ringtones, funny online posters and even slogans.
The Consumer Fights Back
But these effects also affect another group of people, the businessmen. Even recently, when I was negotiating for a deal on a car, just the mere mention of posting the details of the deal on a forum made a most observable impact on the salesman who immediately sit up and become more careful on what he promised. I know that I have been turned away from many many dis-reputed shops and deals after reading comments and reviews from other online users. I am pretty certain many of these shops learnt their lesson not to mess with their customers who now have a very powerful tool at their disposal to publicly shame them and cause significant damage to their reputation and business.
No One is Safe
And to take it one step further, apart from businesses and celebrities, we, the common people are also not spared from this dangerous double-edged sword of transparency on the web. Anyone can find themselves in the centre of a barrage of criticism if their actions displeased a person actively involved in any online community. Couple this with our ever present camera phones, disgraceful actions, bad parking and lewd behaviour can be broadcast from here to USA in a matter of days. No one is safe.
What Does this Mean?
So the question is this, is this development for the better or the worse for us?
Well, I would say that it is definitely for the better for those who conduct themselves properly and honorably at all times. For such people, they have nothing to fear and it surely encourages better conduct for those who are aware that 'small brother' is always looking i.e. the eye of the people. However, which of us can sincerely say that all our actions are respectable and can stand up to the light at all times? Thus for people like us, it may not be all good (especially if you've been caught before), but if you look at it objectively, you know that it will prompt you to be more careful in how you behave in public. And that in itself, is good for humanity as a whole.