What was once lauded as a way to connect to new friends all over the planet has become an inescapable scourge that is actually destroying mankind.
Many of us here on the Internet are older; we remember fondly the delucive techno gold rush of the late nineties and early twenty-first century. When everybody under thirty had their own website, or at the very least a Livejournal or Geocities landing page. Many of us made lifelong friends on the information superhighway. To this day, I’ve never met many of my oldest friends face-to-face and yet they know more about me than anyone I know on the physical plane.
Change is inevitable and all promising developments are eventually tainted by greed, unchecked ambition, and the general stupidity of the masses. These days the Internet is a useless churn of advertisements, moronic egotism, and bald faced lies. We’ve been headed in this direction for a decade but until recently I was able to trumpet the unoriginal “but at its core, the Internet is still useful” mantra spread by my deluded futurist compatriots. Every year it gets more difficult to repeat that line with a straight face, at least not without feeling a little sick to my stomach.
As an information technology professional, I’m torn. I can obviously still see the promise of long-range, unbridled communication, but I feel that in my middle-age, I know too much of the world to believe that anything positive can come out of it. I’m not an anti-Capitalist and I don’t begrudge people their expensive toys but it’s disheartening that for all of humanity’s progress and innovation, all we have to show for it is six new models of cellphone a year, endless subscription services for things that used to be free, and an ever-growing tidal wave of social anxiety and depression. Eventually this monstrous wave of illness and hatred will crash against the shore. You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to know how catastrophic it will be.
I firmly believe that social networks are the rotten core at the heart of our disease. We went from a civilization in which most people focused on their day to day lives, cared for their families, and did their job to one in which even the most vapid ignoramus believes that their opinion is not only valid and true, but needs to be known by every man, woman, and child in the world.
I understand the irony in writing that sentence on a social network.
When society course-corrects in order to solve a systemic problem, it often overcompensates in a big way. We have countless examples from history of this happening. Fascism, communism… even democracy is an imperfect, hastily thrown together reaction to constitutional monarchy. We humans aren’t known for our logical reactions. My fear is that in responding to what I essentially call toxic freedom (I will write more on this in the future though I imagine it will offend many of my more progressive readers), we will plunge ourselves into the worst tyranny any of us has ever heard of.
So what can be done? Well, if history is any indication, nothing. Most of us are simply too stupid and too lazy to be relied on to do the right thing when it counts. My instinctual reaction is always to murder anybody who vehemently disagrees with me but that’s hardly rational or measured. When the whole world is sick all we can really do is ensure that we are better than the chaff. Educate yourself, keep reaching for positions of prestige and responsibility so that you can distance yourself from the writhing mess of gnashing teeth below.
One thing is for certain: none of the world’s most respected people give a shit about Facebook.