The internet: an epochal invention, vehicle of freedom, able to spread ideas and news instantly all over the world, maybe even to tear down governments like Gandhi. Or a receptacle of hate, fake news and a market of illegal things of any kind.
The debate on the internet reflects a constant division in two opposed fan clubs, extremist supporter of this or that position, unable not only to dialogue, but also to reason a bit deeper than what you see on the surface. The internet can be both, better yet is none of those things. It’s just an instrument, neutral per se. It’s the use that we make that make it swing between Che Guevara, a voice for the people, and Charles Manson, pure evil. And everything in between.
We refer to the internet users as “web people”, like it was a secret congregation of virtual beings that don’t exist in real life. No, it’s just people connected with a device, like the 99% of us. If the consumer acts like Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde whether it’s on line or not it’s a problem of him/her, we can’t always blame something else. “It’s the internet”, “it’s the alcohol”, “it’s the video-games”, “it’s Marilyn Manson”. It’s never us.
Internet can’t mean change by itself, from above. It speeds communications, sure. But having something to say it’s on us. Artistic, philosophical, thought trends existed way before the internet. People used to meet in cafes, associations, clubs, agoras, where personalities that made history were built. The difference is that back than you had to be proactive, motivated, now we are passive receivers.
Then the Arab Springs came along. Young people, women, all the excluded by the society took advantage of social networks to fight dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria. Maybe at the beginning was like that, but only the organized groups ended up taking control of the protest and discontent, putting away the idealistic, almost romantic idea of genuine rebellion. Isis itself, which does a conspicuous use of the internet, makes its propaganda also in the streets, in jails, in poor and disadvantaged areas. It’s not different from crime organizations all over the world.
If we can’t give the internet much merit, we can’t even remark its demerit. Its main fault is to be too democratic, to give a voice to anybody. Which is fine, but why do we have to hear or read the opinion of an average person, famous or not, on homosexual marriages or vaccines? But still, we can’t blame the internet if we can’t stay in our places and only talk about what we know or is in our competence, like we have an actual opinion. A practise incited by feedbacks. If we ignored all of this, it probably would cease. Like when you don’t feed an animal and it goes away spontaneously.
Rage and violence were amongst us since ever, Cain killed Abel, Romulus killed Remus. Whether we believe or not the myth, it’s symptomatic of human nature. The internet can even prevent real violence, if it remains in a virtual sphere, like a relief valve. The web didn’t create racism, sexism, bullying, homophobia, we always put the finger on scapegoats like witches or the Jews, which reconnects to rumours and the so called fake news.
Remember the Blue Whale, the Russian game that instigated suicide among teenagers? It wasn’t even real, but we had everybody talking about the dangers for an adolescent who sails the web by himself. Of course we must always pay attention to everything, but without turning paranoid.
Technology progresses, but human mentality is basically the same since millenniums. Without understanding this we can’t argue on the internet with objectivity, without demonizing it or worshipping it and dropping our personal responsibilities that we all have to our actions.