Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Blogger's Virtues

On his Fairfax blog, Sam de Brito today apologised for tearing strips off Steve Tucker, the Canberra public servant who sent a mass email looking for 'Olivia', whom he met at a party.

I've no strong feelings about Steve's saga, but I was impressed by Sam's online mea culpa. (Let's be generous, and assume it's sincere, and not coerced by Fairfax.)

The internet offers easy cruelty at a distance.  We can instantly ridicule a victim, without reflection or editorial feedback.  And we can do it without physical, face-to-face confrontation: the machines keep us clean, sterile.  The humiliation of the public gaze, without the mess of actual intimacy.

To avoid this, we need several virtues, including empathy, patience and restraint.  At the very least, we need honesty to recognise when we've failed, and bravery to admit it.

Today, Sam de Brito was honest and brave, and it's heartening to see this in blog-land.

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