Here is something I wrote five years ago when I first started blogging. As more and more people spend more and more time online, I think it is increasingly relevant. Also, as the web becomes more mainstream, I have seen the idea of a "tolerant global community" diminish somewhat. Also, looking back I think the "globalness" of the web as been wiped out by "localized social groups". I think part of the "social customization" of the web is to blame for that, but that's a Pandora's Box of social commentary for another day.
I think the Internet and our reliance on non-personal communication has been a blessing and a curse. While everyone can communicate with all across the world, technology has created a "have" and "have not" climate in terms of face-to-face interaction. We are not becoming one global village. We are becoming two groups: one communal village of interactors and a second cynical group of individuals who express their opinions but choose not to participate.
This second entity can be quite dangerous. Whether informed or unlearned, the Internet as given everyone a voice. These mostly cynical views can splinter attempts at a tolerant global community if allowed. If enough people choose to follow a dissenting voice or group of voices, the attempt at harmony will be destroyed.
Cynical web sites, blogs, and comments are similar to the Grinch mailing down propaganda to Wooville on a daily basis bemoaning the Woo's emphasis on their Christmas holiday. We have gone too far to pull back and retreat into isolationism. Reasonable tolerance is the only answer. Negotiate where one's group ends and another's individual options begin. Throwing rocks at glass houses is not an option.