The internet is a double edge sword towards the issue of racism. Racism is the belief that one group is superior to another based on mental and physical aspects. People can be prejudice and stereotype others. A stereotype is an over generalized belief that one racial category is inherently superior or inferior to another. A prejudice is a negative irrational characteristic given to a certain group of people.
There are three levels of prejudice, cognitive – which is a thought or belief, emotional – when an emotion is applied to a cognitive belief and lastly, when an action is taken. There are four different ways in which people can discriminate: verbalization, exclusion, avoidance and physical abuse. Through verbalization people put there prejudices into words. Exclusion entails leaving others out of activities such as jobs or leisure time activities. Avoidance occurs when a person makes plan in order to prevent one from coming into contact with others. The least common type of discrimination is physical abuse which occurs when ones thoughts are put into actions.
The internet can both help and harm racism discrimination in today’s society. Online encounters are not face to face and therefore people do not have knowledge of ones race, ethnicity, appearance, social status, and other factors which people judge one another by. People can engage in relationships with a cloak of anonymity on the internet which may bring about fair and equal treatment. On the other hand, people with the protection of anonymity, people may discriminate more so online, then in person.
The internet is also used to educate people, and one of the leading ways to end racism and discrimination is through education. People are exposed to diversity online. At the same time, information found on the internet can also increase and create discrimination and racism. Hate groups can reach large amounts of people around the world online, and people can take interest in the privacy of their own home.