How Can You Be More Responsible Online?

These days, we all live a significant amount of our lives online. That naturally raises the question: how can we be responsible in our online lives?

Despite the fact that we have steadily increased the amount of time we spend online, not much good has come of it.

On a personal basis, the promise of the internet was to bring people together, even if separated by thousands of miles. While that happens, an increasing percentage of users feel more lonely and isolated than ever before. It is also true that it is remarkably easy to have your identity stolen.

Things aren’t much better on a societal level, either. On the plus side, anyone with an internet connection has access to a remarkable amount of information. Unfortunately, there is also more misinformation available as well. Rumors, lies, and conspiracy theories spread more quickly online than does the truth.

So what can we do about it?

One thing is for each of us to be more responsible in our online lives. This responsibility extends to how we protect our own information, how we behave to other online users, and what information we consume and share with others.

What, specifically, do you do to guard your personal information? What do you do to see someone as an individual when all they are to you is pixels on a screen? And how do you make sure you are not falling prey to hoaxes and lies that you might encounter on your internet travels?

Related questions: Can an internet friend be a true companion? Why does social media often bring out the worst in us? Are you addicted to your phone? What is your bubble?

Voting Or Jury Duty?

There are two primary civic responsibilities: voting and jury duty. Which one is more impactful? Which one do you prefer?

Share why if you wish.

Voting Or Jury Duty?

In What Are You Complicit?

There are many problems and injustices in our modern world. From the threat of climate crisis to political unrest, from mass shootings to species extinction, hardly a day goes by without hearing of the latest development on some problem front.

While it is tempting to state that you are unequivocally against one problem or another, life isn’t quite that simple. While your words might say one thing, your actions may say something altogether different.

The infrastructure that is in place in our society often acts in a certain way, due to economic and political pressures. By taking part in that overall system, you are reinforcing the behavior of the system, even if it does something you disagree with.

For example, let us suppose that you are against the exploitation of agricultural laborers. The people who pick the fruits and vegetables that fill our grocery stores and restaurant pantries often work in dangerous conditions for poor wages.

You might support improving those conditions and are in favor of paying workers more. However, you might also buy the less expensive options at the grocery store, and you may not have any knowledge of where the produce comes from or how it is picked.

Your participation in the system — buying less expensive produce — reinforces the economic pressures that lead to growers paying less to people picking their crops.

This is true for just about every issue, regardless of your political affiliation. If there is something in our society that you disagree with, and yet you are part of society and contribute to it, in greater or lesser degree you are complicit in that problematic behavior.

If you drive on the freeway, you are complicit in the way neighborhoods were broken up when they were constructed. If you vote for a political candidate because you like their policies, you are complicit with any negative act that politician participates in. If you use a social media platform to keep in touch with friends and family, you are complicit in the bad behavior the company does to gain an economic advantage.

This is not to say that you are solely responsible for these bad acts, but you cannot claim complete innocence, either. By participating in a corrupt system, you are partially corrupt yourself.

Can you think of ways that you are complicit in acts and behaviors you don’t like? Can you think of things that you might do change the system or yourself?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? What do you do that you shouldn’t? What beliefs do you have that might be wrong? What is the greatest problem facing humanity? What are you doing to make the world a better place?

What Does An Audience Owe The Artist?

One of the most interesting aspects of art is the relationship between the artist, who creates the art, and the audience, who interprets it.

The artist obviously has something in mind when they create, no matter if what they create is a piece of music, a painting, or something else altogether. That inspiration may or may not be obvious to the person or people who see the finished work.

The artist and the audience may never meet, and there is no guarantee that someone experiencing the piece will know anything at all about the person who created it. That not only includes who the artist is, but also what they are trying to convey in the work they have created.

However, there is a relationship between creator and consumer. Art is a means of communicating from one person to another, even if that communication is indirect.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘How can we maintain wonder?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘How do you think others see you?’


With that in mind, does the audience for a work of art have any responsibility to the artist? Do they owe serious consideration, honest emotion, setting an appropriate context, or even learning about the intention during creation?

Does it vary from artist to artist, and/or from audience to audience? Does it depend on the type of art created? For example, does someone looking at a painting have a different obligation to the painter than someone listening to some music owes the composer and/or performer? What about a play, or some other public performance?

Related questions: What is art? Art: Create or consume? How important is the artist to art?

Is There Something You Do That Others Would Consider Harmful?

It is no secret that different people often have conflicting opinions. What one person might consider the right course of action, another might think wrong, or even harmful.

With that in mind, are there actions you have taken that others have disagreed with? Disagreed with so strongly, in fact, that a friend or a family member considered what you were doing to be dangerous?

Harmful, in this context, can mean many things.

One possibility is to be harmful to yourself. If you do something that puts your life, or some part of it, at risk, that might be considered harmful to you. This might include doing something that puts your job or your livelihood at risk. It might also mean risking physical harm, as well.

A second possibility is to risk the relationships or the even the lives of people around you. For example, someone might consider you a bad parent if you permit your child to participate in risky behavior (even if it is done in a controlled way).

Yet another type of harmful behavior might include something potentially damaging to the environment. This might include something as simple as not recycling, or something like driving an older, polluting car.

Naturally, differences of opinion may very well be at the heart of some of disagreements. Someone might believe eating meat is harmful (it’s certainly harmful to the animals being eaten), but someone else might simply view that as part of natural life: animals eat other animals.

Is there any behavior you have participated in that someone else considered harmful? Did you come to regret your actions, or do you feel they were justified? Or some of both?

Related questions: What do you do that you shouldn’t? How do you judge yourself? What beliefs do you have that might be wrong? When should you criticize someone?