Being a member of Generation Y, I feel like I grew up with the Internet as much as the Internet grew up with me. Back when I was a kid, having Instant Messenger was basically a necessity. Many were enthralled by this new form of communication and that enthusiasm is what created what we know today as Web 2.0.

Today there’s a plethora of communication platforms to choose from to connect with friends, family, strangers with that share your interests. Of course there are the social media staples that most have given into, like Facebook and Twitter. These sites can definitely be beneficial when it comes to keeping up with connections, but often can bring out the uglier side of a person who feels more empowered by making their statements online.

It gets even worse when it comes to website question and answer sites. These forums are based around anonymity and mostly attract young teens. On some of them, for example, you can make a profile, similar to other social media sites, and then post pictures, answer questions about your life, etc. I can’t even recount how many times I’ve seen anonymous comments calling others fat or ugly or telling them to kill themselves. These websites are breeding grounds for hate, but for some reason, they attract the younger generation.

But kids aren’t the only ones being affected by internet bullying. Just the other day, I was reading an article on about Aimee Copeland, the girl from Georgia who is suffering from flesh-eating bacteria and had to have most of her limbs removed. The comments section was nothing short of disgusting, with people insulting the girl’s family and making jokes at her expense. I absolutely could not believe people could be so heartless.

In the end, I think that people need to remember and consider the fact that everyone has feelings. Respect is not something that we should reserve for the people we know in real life and are trying to impress. Respect should be universal and unconditional. The Internet should empower and provide knowledge and not be yet another struggle for young people to have to deal with. We have a great tool for communication at our disposal; we just need to learn how to use it correctly.