By Pene Beavan Horton

We have only to read the hate filled comments below any controversial Internet article to realize just how full of rage many people are. We can't tell who they are by looking at them on the street, and they probably only give free rein to their emotions because they can do it anonymously, but judging by
the amount of malicious spite out there, we should be afraid to venture outside our own front doors.

Such a malignant outpouring of individual wrath is terrifying. It shows up on the Internet like red hot lava spilling down the side of a volcano. It is apparently
no longer enough to disagree with someone else's views; these self-righteous haters seem to feel they have to crucify the person(s) they are vilifying.
What happened to agreeing to disagree? To live and let live? To civilized restraint?

What happened to do as you would be done by? To the Golden Rule?
Wikipedia says: "The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a moral maxim or principle of altruism found in many human cultures and religions, suggesting
it may be related to a fundamental human nature."

(Which makes one ask, what has happened to this fundamental human nature since the advent of the Internet, and the universal ability it has given people
to vent their anonymous spleen?)

The Golden Rule "is a unilateral moral commitment to the well-being of the other without the expectation of anything in return." Or, more simply,
'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'.

Cyber bullying has reached murderous heights, cyber-crime also, taking into account hacking, hijacking other people's computers for ransom or
worse.

But perhaps the worst use of computers is the freedom it gives anonymous haters to make our space toxic. Thoughts have impact. Huge impact.
We are what we think about and our thoughts make us do what we do. Our thoughts can enhance or pollute our personal environment. Allowing other
people's toxic thoughts to invade our mind space is like letting sewage flow unchecked into our drinking water.

So having said all this, what can we personally do to combat these vicious online attacks? Stop reading the comments, and never join in because
that's what the perpetrators want - an audience, someone to keep the ugliness going.

If we want to express our point of view, why not say it respectfully then leave it? Why not refuse to be drawn into ugly arguments? It's a simple thing
to do, and we, and the rest of our world, will be a whole lot better off.