Let’s call this one food for thought!
Some interesting and not so random excerpts- at least not random to me since I did select them!
This theory is—probably—a joke. It is not a serious analysis. But still, there’s something there; there are ways in which the internet really does seem to work like a possessing demon. We tend to think that the internet is a communications network we use to speak to one another—but in a sense, we’re not doing anything of the sort. Instead, we are the ones being spoken through. Teens on TikTok all talk in the exact same tone, identical singsong smugness. Millennials on Twitter use the same shrinking vocabulary. My guy! Having a normal one! Even when you actually meet them in the sunlit world, they’ll say valid or based, or say y’all despite being British. Memes on Instagram have started addressing people as my brother in Christ, so now people are saying that too. Clearly, that name has lost its power to scatter demons.
Everything you say online is subject to an instant system of rewards. Every platform comes with metrics; you can precisely quantify how well-received your thoughts are by how many likes or shares or retweets they receive. For almost everyone, the game is difficult to resist: they end up trying to say the things that the machine will like. For all the panic over online censorship, this stuff is far more destructive. You have no free speech—not because someone might ban your account, but because there’s a vast incentive structure in place that constantly channels your speech in certain directions. And unlike overt censorship, it’s not a policy that could ever be changed, but a pure function of the connectivity of the internet itself. This might be why so much writing that comes out of the internet is so unbearably dull, cycling between outrage and mockery, begging for clicks, speaking the machine back into its own bowels.
This incentive system can lead to very vicious results. A few years ago, a friend realized that if she were murdered—if some obsessed loner shot her dead in the street—then there were hundreds of people who would celebrate. She’d seen similar things happen enough times. They would spend a day competing to make exultant jokes about her death, and then they would all move on to something else. My friend was not a particularly famous or controversial person: she had some followers and some bylines, but probably her most divisive article had been about tax policy. But she was just famous enough for hundreds of people, who she didn’t know and had never met, to hate her and want to see her dead. It wasn’t even that they had different political opinions: plenty of these people were on the same side. They would laugh at her death in the name of their shared commitment to justice and liberation and a better future for all.
Maybe these were simply bad people, but I’m not so sure……
The internet is not a communications system. Instead of delivering messages between people, it simulates the experience of being among people, in a way that books or shopping lists or even the telephone do not. And there are things that a simulation will always fail to capture
The quote above? I can see that on place like twitter. But when I am here, writing here, commenting here, it’s clear to me that those of you that share your comments and thoughts are real people. With real thoughts, memories, feelings that you share.
Perhaps because I’m older and have lived in the real among people, face to face, for far longer a time span than my participation in on line activities?
So, enlighten me fellow travelers! 🙂
And read entirely at the opening link- provided top of the post