Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Get Scared of the Internet

Encyclopedia Dramatica is an online collection of memes, mostly misinformation rejected by Wikipedia. It's written in memespeak (a cebration of missperlings and 'ctach phrases' cauzed by typos) and can only be understood by familiarity with inside jokes wrapped in inside jokes. For that, it is an amazing world. What unsettles me is that the tone of the site is ruthless. Nothing is sacred. Notably recent rape cases and teenage suicides are insulted as soon as they happen, all under a weak defense of 'satire'. It's all done "for the lulz".

"For the lulz" is an expression that roughly translates to "hurting someone else for one's amusement". People will think of mean, and even clever, things to do to reach out and insult those who have a strong emotional connection to something (could be a character in Star Wars, could be a family member who died). Sometimes it's simply the use of a shocking image and insensitive subtitle.

This is what scares me about internet communication:

If only they would conform to the crowd. Most people would dare not speak aloud what they post. I'm as for individualism as any grade ten reading Orwell's 1984 but can ostracizing be a positive force? I hate when things make me desire censorship. Hate it enough to start using speeches to incite people to rage and violence. Oops.

Human Nature
Dunbar's number is a claim that humans can only really feel connected to about 150 people. Everyone else we can't get that worked up over. Won't cry if they die. Won't take a risk to defend. Does the internet show us (each time a random user makes a comment, like on YouTube) that most people are full of anger and are more than willing to take it out on strangers? Or maybe just that a minority of internet users are full of anger...

Some of the less friendly internet memes have a tendency to blow up small personal things until they're all over the web. From photos to chat histories, we're leaving a digital trail that can be replicated and ridiculed for the rest of our lives. And no one can delete them. Well until the great internet fire where we'll have to start over.

Disturbing things are the events to our routines. It's not to slow the car down to look at the accident/insult.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I never want the great internet fire to happen!

Recently in my circle of blog friends, some anonymous people have been leaving really hurtful comments on posts- especially posts where the blogger opens their heart, spills a secret, or just shares something really emotional. It makes me so angry. So- your post was well timed. Otherwise I'd probably get all "Nope. Nothing wrong with the internet. It's perfect. Perfect". But yeah, anonymity is frightening.