Friday, March 9, 2012

How the Internet is Ruining the World

And I'm not even going to talk about spelling and grammar.

More and more people are not only expressing their opinions, but doing so in a harsh, threatening, or violent way. People seem to think less and less of threatening a person's life because they are racist, or against gay marriage, or FOR gay marriage, or baptizing proxy for someone's deceased family members, or for participating in a group of people that also includes someone else with any of those qualities, or any number of opinions that are repugnant to them.

You see, anyone can have opinions nowadays, even about things that don't really affect them. Just the other day, I was solicited to sign a petition for something in an entirely other state. Which I refused because it's none of my business what another state decides to do with their law.

But that's just it, people think everything is everyone's business. Not only do we disrespect privacy, we actually castigate people who refuse ideological exhibitionism.

Once upon a time, we might be hard-pressed to find people as violently passionate about our pet ideals as we are. But with the internet, whatever our opinions are, we can find like-minded individuals to validate us. We can talk amongst ourselves, convincing ourselves not only that we are right, but that anyone who opposes us is a threat to decency. And if they're a threat to decency, they threaten us. Since they threaten us, we are justified in the use of ideological, emotional, and often physical force to suppress them and get our points across.

Even if we aren't passionate about our opinions, after participating in the ideological frenzy, we up the ante. We easily overcome our ingrained sense of civilization and move the frenzy from ideological into the physical realm.

Whoever yells the loudest can easily intimidate everyone else into either siding with them, or tacitly standing by while their opponents are beaten up. It's a playground bully dynamic on a grandiose scale. Like sharks, the moment the scent of blood is in the water, the bullies converge.

It is becoming a very frightening thing to believe in something. There used to be a word for that. It was called "mob." For a long time, mobs have been socially unacceptable. But that is changing.

I think that the internet, this great and beautiful tool which has given publishing ability to any Joe Schmoe with connectivity, has perhaps given Joe Schmoe the sense that his opinions are actually worth something. Not only worth something, but worth more than anyone else's. Worth more than civilized behavior.

In short, I think the internet and technology may be contributing to a de-civilization of society. Just as all those SciFi novels warned us would happen.

11 comments :

  1. Well said. I find that much of the "comment"ary online is couched the way my 15-year-old does it: he's just becoming politically and socially aware, and everything seems to be black or white to him. There are no shades of gray in his view, nor should there be in anyone else's (according to him).

    He then continues to repeat his view, certain that just by saying it, he will be proven right. Those who disagree are open to personal attack, not an attack on their facts.

    Of course my 15-year-old is young and learning. Hopefully he'll grow out of this phase as my other children have. I don't know what to think of the online crowd...

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  2. Like the school playground bulling and banning are used to silence and censor but aside from that when you're in a public forum the like-minded individuals who validate us are countered by like-minded individuals who invalidate us so it becomes a debate. The bloggernacle is actually quite tame compared to the political blogs.

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  3. I should hope so, Howard. Still, there is plenty of behavior in the Bloggernacle of which we, as supposed disciples of Christ, should be ashamed.

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  4. Don't know. I've been doing a lot of reading about the history of Spain. There's a lot there that is apt, but nothing more than what happened leading up to and during the Spanish Civil War. The apt thing is that it was so much a conflict between a left and a right that we would recognize today. And they did horrible things to each other, then never spoke about it for decades. It could be that some tensions are released by being able to be a jckazz online. But you're right that a lot of it is sure ugly.

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  5. I witnessed threats, hacking and what appeared to be organized bulling on political blogs as early as the late 90s but never on the bloggernacle do you have examples of threats? Violence? I think the word has become watered down through over use are you referring to physical violence? How would that take place on the internet? As undersirable as harsh language is violence through words is so far removed from the concept of physical violence that it should be called something else, this use seems more like hyperbole to me and assumes we're victims incapable of dealing with it or removing ourselves from the source. Are we really that delicate? As the conversation becomes larger more of the bell curve of humanity is represented and we encounter more outliers.

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  6. I am ashamed of your apologetics for racism. But you are probably talking about people like me.

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  7. Howard, the Bloggernacle is not the only human online interaction I have. The Bloggernacle actually didn't inspire this post. And yes, I'm referring to threats of physical violence as well as verbal violence. There are many reports of people with unsavory opinions being threatened, and it really isn't that hard these days to find out where people live. Furthermore, verbal and emotional violence are far more damaging than you give credit for.

    In the interest of full disclosure, what inspired this post was a complicated mix of many things, none of which occurred in LDS blogs. One core spark for this thought was several posts on Single Dad Laughing which over the past several weeks made me more aware of bullying, but I have been collecting the observations in the back of my mind for many months, bordering on years. Another was someone close to me who dismissed me because of my experiences and ideas which did not match his, and the emotional effect this had on me. The final spark was the aforementioned solicitation, which happened on Facebook. None of which had much, if anything, to do with the Bloggernacle.

    Chris, if you can point me towards my "apologetics for racism," I would appreciate it. Near as I can tell, claiming that we shouldn't threaten the lives of racists, no matter how repugnant their views, and claiming that we don't know for a fact that Brigham Young was racist, is the sum total of my defense of racism. The fact that you think this constitutes racism betrays more of your ignorance and bigotry than it does of mine, so I'm not terribly concerned about it.

    Whether or not you fit into the category described by the OP, I don't know. I've never seen you make threats of physical violence towards anyone that I can recall, but you would be the best judge of that. I don't exactly keep a record of your wrongdoings.

    For what it's worth, I actually forgot about your anger against me until you came here to remind me of it. The Bloggernacle, as I've said, is one of many online communities I participate in. BCC is quite peripheral in my life, and whatever happens there is of little significance to me. It doesn't occupy much of my thought.

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  8. Maybe the great machine built by the Krell civilization (from "Forbidden Planet") was their very own internet. They supposedly disappeared overnight.

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  9. Yes. The Internet is destroying decency in the world. Today's children are tomorrow's adults. By then us grown-ups will be dead and gone. Those "children" will not have known what it was like to live in a world where people cared for one another and focused more on the psychological benefits of working, rather than the financial profit of it all. The Internet has become the primary tool (or weapon) for converting "normal" people into walking personas. As addictive and popular as Facebook is, it is a "place" where people become "personas". It is as if everyone is trying to impress one another. A social club. Back in the 90s, before many knew about the Internet, socialites and other groups were divided. One group rarely knew about the other. But now, everything is melting together. This is causing an implosion. I could go on and on to give examples as to why the Internet is destroying the world. But, the bottom line is this. Imagine how your life would be different if you disconnected yourself from it. I personally have experienced the benefits of this. I completely banned my family from having anything more to do with it. And the only reason I am on here now is because I am trapped in college at the moment. Once I graduate I will be tossing the computer into the garbage can once and for all. Certain things in this world were meant to remain unknown or divided. Centuries of time have proven this to be true. The Internet is one large contradiction of the Truth, even if it offers "truth" at the same time. I don't need it. You don't need it. Nobody needs it. The world was just fine before it came around.

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  10. I agree with this wholeheartedly. Some people may say "Oh, you shouldn't let some anonymous, random person you don't know bother you". But, it does bother me. Maybe my skin just isn't thick enough. Maybe I'm not meant to be on the internet. I enjoy reading and that's the majority of what I do on the internet. I have noticed many times that the quickest way to bum yourself out is to read comments on articles, videos, etc. The depravity and sheer hate that some people have towards others is what bothers me. There is no accountability. Even 20 years ago, you had face to face conversations, even if they were heated, and there was a sense of accountability there. If these people who "troll" or spew hateful words to others were to do that in a face to face interaction, they would have more severe consequences. Social skills are on the decline as well. We all need real human contact. Now, instead of meeting for coffee or talking on the phone, most times we opt to email, text message or simply like someone's status on FB. I miss having people around me to interact with. I live far away from my family and I have my immediate family (husband, kids), but I really miss being able to have a conversation, have a laugh, without the burden of technology. Yes, I said burden. I see it as an annoyance as well as a blessing. It depends on what I'm using it for. I think some people forget that there is a flesh and blood human being behind every keyboard and monitor. When I do express my opinion in a comment section or whatnot, I try to act like I am talking to someone and give them the due respect they deserve as a fellow human. I hold myself accountable for my actions online. I have no desire to incite anger in the masses just for a laugh (trolls). I guess I'm just not programmed for the internet, pun completely intended.

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