A website is like a house. We usually know the house owner before we visit them. Online, however, we usually get to see a website first and then come to know the author. This is a good thing, for it allows us to break away from the chains of stereotypical discrimination and instead look at someone based on their achievements in the form of their website. Having such a mentality online helps us in real life also. However, just like in real life, we usually discriminate others without realizing it many times. If we can get used to not discriminating on the web, we will be hesitant before discriminating in real life. I will summarize below two forms of discrimination that exist in the real world and also online.
Theoretically on the web, there should not be any form of discrimination. In reality however, there is. We use the same racial terminology to describe people on the web that we do in person. On sites like MySpace and Facebook, I see many people sticking around and joining groups that promote their culture only by degrading other cultures. The potential of the web is being wasted in creating more separation than what the web is actually capable of: bringing everyone closer than never before. Similarly, we ask people about their ethnic race and background culture even when it comes to things like creating some e-mail account or joining certain blogging networks. We need to realize the situations where such information is beneficial to everyone, and we also need to realize the situations where such information is not relevant.
It is easy to get a chance to appreciate others online for what they do for themselves and for what they do for others. Even when we see pictures of millions of people on their own sites, we do not rush to conclusions based on their biological appearance. Instead, we associate the writing with the picture and that association creates a completely new perspective in our minds. Such interaction with others on the web will help us phase out any stereotypes we have related to different people online.
One of the other obvious forms of discrimination today is against females. In real life, many people get surprised when a female accomplishes great things in a male dominated world. We still get surprised and show anger at the very thought of a woman running a country, regardless of her political affiliation. Similarly, in the corporate world we still throw tantrums in real life and online when a female runs a big corporation, creating extra fuss simply because of her gender. We have a way to get over this on the web but many choose not to.
The same way there are stereotypes against people of a specific gender in the world of shopping, stereotypical discrimination exists on the web also. Many people will still only link to sites of the same gender, because they “don’t trust” the opposite gender. I wonder if they follow this same rule when it comes to their parents, siblings and children? While everyone is entitled to their opinion, we have more chances to look at sites without wondering about the identification differences that the societies in the world have created. The online world allows everyone to have equal opportunities, regardless of their gender. Let us make use of these opportunities to at least remove discrimination from our own mentality.
Conclusion: The web allows us to progress against discrimination
While discrimination usually amounts to promoting a certain biological trait over another, sometimes promoting such traits effectively as a reactionary countermeasure helps people be aware of discrimination. Blogging sites focusing solely on a certain gender can be an example of this. While they all may be considered promoting a certain gender over the other, some of them actually take the right step when it comes to raising more awareness about something that has been suppressed for centuries: realization that everyone is equal regardless of their gender. Similarly, there are many sites which promote blogs by a certain country or a certain ethnic group. Joining these groups is fine as long as you do not put any other country or ethnic group below your own. You do not own rights to a certain group of people, and therefore you certainly not own rights to degrade any group of people.
I look forward to the day when people would feel comfortable doing things both in real life and on the web regardless of their gender or race. I also look forward to the day when different people will do different things together while still getting together with people of similar traits if they wish. I hope this is done in an effective manner so that everyone is treated equally, and that sticking close to people of different races and both genders makes us realize that we are all equal. One day people will hopefully tell each other Back then they used to treat people of different races and gender differently.” I hope I see that day in my lifetime.