“Whether you use it to draw something beautiful, or use it poke someone’s eye out, it’s still just a pen.”
– Charles Xavier, Dark Phoenix
I think this might actually be my favorite moment of seeing Professor X as an actual teacher. He’s speaking to a little girl, named Jean Grey, who has just done something very bad, by accident, with her mutant powers. He means to encourage her in using her gifts in a better way, learning to control them. The first step in that is to help her understand that her gifts, in and of themselves, are neither good nor bad. They’re like a pen he gives her: free to be used for whatever she likes. It’s a tool.
It’s not what one can do with a tool, but what one chooses to do with it, that is either good or bad. And yes, one does have a choice.
That holds true regardless of the tool in question.
Superhuman abilities, for instance, are regularly seen as something used in combat, to hurt people and take lives. Yet they could be used just as easily in education, research, construction, communication, manufacturing, medicine, entertainment, the arts, even agriculture. Or maybe they wouldn’t need to be used at all, if the person who has them just wants to live a nice, quiet life.
A pen can be used to write anything, from the coarsest depths to the most enlightened heights of human dialogue. It can preserve knowledge, alter the course of civilizations, communicate vital knowledge, and give eternal life to stories that become classics. Or it can be used to do… less enlightened things, we shall say. And that’s just with writing. It can be used to draw anything as well. Or poke someone’s eye out. 😉
The internet is a magnificent means of communication, and that makes it powerful. There are parties who want to control it, to censor everything and let the masses access only what the elite want them to access. So, it could be used as a means of control, but it can also be used to enhance our freedom, sharing all manner of thoughts, ideas, and feelings across great distances. I remember when phones were just phones, plugged into a wall and stuck there forever, but now I can email, chat, and have video conversations with my family (among other things) easily, on a regular basis. But however we use it, for good or bad, including however much time we spend on it, the internet is just a tool.
Implements for cooking and cleaning are important, and generally used for their intended purpose, but they can be used to kill people as well. And tools of violence can be used to invade, rob, and hurt good folk, but they can also, and should, be used to defend one’s home, life, and loved ones.
A tool is a tool. Nothing more.
How they’re used, that is our choice.