How the Internet treats us like adults
Big news on Tuesday as a federal appeals court ruled that FCC indecency laws are unconstitutional. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the ruling stated that the policies are
"unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here."
While this is mostly a safeguard for broadcast networks to avoid getting sued for "spontaneous vulgarity" - like Bono's f-bomb and the infamous Janet Jackson incident, there's a larger point to be made here. Traditional broadcast media are adapting to the changing times, by simply treating consumers like adults. Don't like the foul language? Switch to another channel. Worried that your kids saw some partial nudity? Explain it to them.
And, of course, the Internet has been doing this for years. The best thing about the digital world is that a user can find absolutely anything - which is also the worst thing. But somehow we've all managed to navigate the space without a rating system, censorship, warning labels, or ten-second delays.
This is not to suggest that there isn't a lot of scary, inappropriate content on the Web. There is. But even the much talked about "internet kill switch" can't make it go away. What the Internet has taught us, and hopefully traditional media has finally learned, is that people are generally mature enough to find material that's appropriate for them, without needing a nanny to shield them from what's not. Because ultimately, the reward outweighs the risk.