During my stay in the U.S. last week, CNN aired a program where psychologists tested 133 children, aged 4 to 5 and 9 to 10, in a study to look at racial biasness among American kids.
Previously administered in the 1940s, the Doll Test was recreated here to measure the effects of racial desegregation, 60 years after American schools ended a regime where children were separated by the color of their skin. In the test, the kids were shown several dolls in different color shades and asked to point to a specific color in response to a series of questions.
Asked to point out the picture of a child she thought was bad, a white child pointed to a black child. A similar colored child was singled out when a white child was asked which child wasn't the smartest in the group.
The results weren't exactly shocking, but I was surprised that the advent of the Internet had done little to quash racial presumptions among children.
Logically, the easy access to the multitude of information now available online should spawn better informed generations, who then go on to rear better informed offspring. And behind the walls of the World Wide Web, we are all without color, gender and creed.
No doubt, the anonymity we have online has resulted in risky activities such as child pornography and identity fraud, but it also allows us to speak without fear of discrimination--something that may not be possible for everyone in the physical world, including the disabled. For example, thanks to the Internet, I'm able to post this blog from my bed this week after being temporarily immobilized with a badly sprained ankle.
So the great World Wide Web has helped "equalize" our differences, disparities and perceived inequalities. It has created a level playing field...isn't that what the industry often touts as a great business benefit for small enterprises?
Thing is, though, people aren't exactly stone-cold organizations.
For instance, while I'm officially on medical leave, my colleagues probably expect me to remain online and contactable since only my foot is sprained, not my brain. But what they can't see behind the computer screen is that I've on pain medication which causes drowsiness, leaving a brain that's also pretty limp and not exactly in tip-top shape.
The Internet may be the great equalizer, but the human being is a complex network of emotions, thoughts and personality traits.
We don't just live and breathe in the virtual world, once in a while--some less often than others--we come out into the real world to physically interact with others. Many of us still form opinions of our own, whether misguided or not, and choose to live by our own doctrine, rightly or wrongly.
That's what makes us individuals, in spite of the faceless Internet, and you know what, I'm okay with that.
Sure, it may also mean that we never overcome racial discrimination, gender biasness and poverty lines, but I'd like to think we are better off today than we were 60 years ago, and that's what matters.
Perhaps more countries need to decree Internet access a legal right for all citizens. Or perhaps parents need to be conscious about how the minds of their young ones are being nurtured.
Ultimately, what I'd still like to see is evolution.