The internet has been a boon for humanity. While that might make me sound like a Tron-like evangelical, I really do believe that our lives have improved overall from such interwoven 1s & 0s.
But like the Garden of Eden, we have bitten out of a proverbial Apple and seemingly now know too much. (Okay, I’ll stop)
When the internet first arrived it was novel, charming, maybe cute. Currently, it is so immensely ingrained in modern society that I couldn’t bare to wonder if it disappeared overnight.
It has made so much of life’s logistical overhead irreducibly simple.
As we collectively lean more heavily on technology, however, we may also be shrugging off too many of our own personal responsibilities.
One of those responsibilities, I think, is open, transparent communication. I’m not sure there are too many of us left that are capable of doing so. (Especially me)
Navigating the perils of human interaction is hard enough. Throw in the same wildly inconsistent nature of man, but with a laptop? That’s a tall order.
It doesn’t feel hyperbolic for me to say that hardly any of the internet mirrors the often sober realities of life. I’m pressed to believe we all just got a promotion, a new baby, now have abs, and took Henny shots with Michael Cera.
With that stark contrast from reality is the struggle in how we speak through our keyboards and doing so in-person.
It’s clear how I talk to you over coffee is not the same over Facebook, on your Instagram photo, over email, via Snapchat, through TikToks, etc.
The rules for both are vastly distinct. Both require semi-nuanced understandings of respective cultures and subtle cues. Though in-person is typically less prone to savagery.
If you are engaging with strangers, the rules for online decorum is tantamount to war: good luck.
That loose attitude dictates the ongoing Mad Max nature of the web. Sure, it’s been cleaned up over the past 20 years, but the people inside those tidy public forums are, more or less, the same.
Honesty and sincerity are hard to find on the internet. If you don’t like someone? Radio silence. If you like someone? Get ready to be ‘exposed’. If you’re angry? Comments. If you’re venting? Twitter. If you want attention? Instagram.
I will contend that there pockets of good on the web. People trying to console others and mentor those without support. Communities of probably good people trying to do good things, and I don’t want to discredit that — but I’ll say that is by far the minority.
Anonymity, anarchy, community, humility, savagery. It’s all there, maybe too available, and all the time. We spend a lot of time there. Hell, many of us were raised there — and it’s becoming more and more difficult to discern from real life.
That blurring distinction could be a cause for concern. While the internet is a bliss for utility, it can often be a toxic hell socially.
As the terroir of online encroaches deeper into the tangible world, the fear is that it will drag its unsavory demons with it.
I’m not entirely sure what comes next since the internet is still so new and it changes so rapidly. My only hope is that through its continuous growth spurts and mutations, we’ll still look for that chance to understand and connect with each other.