On Day 5 of what has become hate mail and a love letter to the internet, we shall see how it has become an interactive Rorschach test.
I’ve come to view the internet as a kind of flawed monument to the human intellect. In a time when our culture is increasingly accessible, it’s a relatively open, participatory medium giving everyone the chance to have a say. It has democratised information flow, to the extent permitted by inequities in wealth: those with marketing budgets always shout louder. This democratisation has led to a de-authorisation of authority and a devaluation of expertise. The new reality created by an opening up of information has driven people to find new paths and solutions, rejecting obsolete and outmoded forms of information distribution. every day, software developers do things that have never before been attempted and people with vision commission projects that would only have been discussed in the pages of science fiction novels only twenty-five years ago. It has led those who profit from the status quo to defend their business models with a viciousness and ruthlessness that has been breathtaking at times: the litigiousness of the recorded entertainment industry who seemed to lose their cool when they became the establishment that they once fought against is a very obvious example. This, largely, is my perception of the internet.
And I think people are panicking. Deeply-held beliefs are challenged. Axioms which, before this globalisation of discourse were set in stone over the cooking fire are ridiculed, flamed, attacked and defeated. The internet has become a place of conflict and a place of peace. It has promised the earth to many, but has only given them another way to waste their time. Compare the Chinese and Libyan activists fighting for their lives and their liberty to your average messageboard argument consisting of petty point-scoring, tolls, flames and the ubiquitous fake libertarians (almost always Boomers who want to keep their loot but increasingly infecting younger generations with their form of institutionalised sociopathy) who don’t like the idea of having to pay road tolls but will be fucked if they’re paying more tax, and would rather throw their money down the drain of inadequate, often criminally duplicitous private health insurance policies than entertain for one second the idea of universal health care.
The clash of ideologies is getting louder and nowhere more than in the print media, who clearly see the massive threat that the internet represents to their business model. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a tabloid with an internet scare story on the front page. The Daily Mail, whose ethos and philosophy seems to rest on keeping their readers in a constant state of terror and rage, barely seem to be able to pass a week without printing a story with (to be diplomatic) a non-zero deception content about some crime in which Facebook was ‘implicated’, or an expose about how Facebook is hiding in the boot of your car waiting to mug your house price while you’re asleep. The newspapers look at Fascebook, and on the internet in general (although many newspapers seem not to know the difference) and see fear, and they reflect that back at their readers.
We know what we expect from the internet, and we seek it with varying degrees of conscious awareness.