To say I have a love/hate relationship with the Internet would be selling short both “love” and “hate.” On the one hand, the Internet is such a significant part of my life that when people ask me where I’m from, I sometimes answer, “I’m from the Internet.” I make a significant part of my living from the Internet. My friends are on the internet. Much of my learning comes from the internet, and without question, I can never fully disconnect from it.
That’s what makes it so frustrating. I am totally reliant on a place that has become an absolute shit-hole. As much as I love and need the Internet, I also despise it with a passion. Obviously, I’m not talking about the servers and routers, but the people and culture that make up the online world.
It’s difficult to overstate just how vicious, personally vindictive, bloodthirsty, and uncivilized Internet culture has become. If the culture of the Web were that of an actual group of people in the real world, it would be so savage we would scarcely recognize it as human. Think about it. There are no trolls in real life. At least not anything on the scale of the Web. Meanwhile the Internet is full of people like Violentacrez whose only purpose online is to torment others, and trolls like him actually have fans.
The Internet has made connection and communication so easy that friendships no longer require any effort. All it takes is one click on Facebook and voila! a new friend. Clearly many of these people aren’t friends at all, which brings me to another thing I hate about the Internet. It’s chock full of fakery; fake friends, fake sympathy, broken promises, and phony claims of “support.” The whole place is a mirage of fake relationships in which nobody has anything invested.
Speaking of fake, the Internet embraces lies and misinformation more readily than even the most demented and isolated cults. If you want to see fake stories and unverified claims of fact spread faster than a wildfire, the Internet is your go to spot. All you need is a sensational proclamation or a charismatic “thought leader” to make a pronouncement and BAM! the Internet will claim it as an undeniable truth.
While we’re on the topic of undeniable truths that aren’t true at all, no where will you find more self assured know-it-alls than here on the Internet. If you’re a regular reader, you know I often present ideas and arguments on topics such as economics that have no definitive answer. Economics is notorious for its wide range of differing opinions, even amongst its most educated practitioners. It is a field of study with essentially no universal agreement, and yet anonymous commenters regularly claim to know exactly how to fix the global economy. Apparently, Internet anonymity makes you the absolute, unquestioned authority on economic policy.
To paraphrase Bertrand Russell, “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that (on the Internet) the stupid are cocksure, while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
When it comes to Internet humor, contrary to popular belief, referencing bacon does not make you a comedian. Jesus Christ, can people at least find a new meme to destroy? Denizens of the Web, please, if you’re trying to be funny at least make an effort. The bacon schtick is way beyond beating a dead horse.
Finally, if the previous five reasons aren’t enough to make you hate the internet, there are always the smankers.
The combination of anonymity and physical distance clearly contributes a great deal to the sorry state of online norms, but I think there’s more to it than that. As I mentioned above, things such as the ease of communication, which should be a positive thing, have been distorted into a method for promoting false integrity and personal brands instead of fostering personal connections. Meanwhile, the platforms provided by the Internet are perfectly designed for the most despicable, narcissistic, and cruel. The end result is a place that attracts the worst kinds of people, or perhaps just brings out our ugliest traits.
I’ve come to hate so much of this place. Too bad I can’t leave.
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman for Pandodaily]