The Internet is the New Wild West; An Untamed Habitat of Communication
Oh, what a glorious place the internet has become. It was the intention and belief, albeit retrospectively naive, that this powerful technology would unite us for the better good. In some ways, it has united us, but not for the betterment; not at this moment anyhow. It has united us into factions which have actually further separated us into warring factions. You don’t like so and so’s political views…block them. You want to hear or read this? Let’s put it at the top of your search. All of this algorithmic data collection has cyphered us into distant “mobs,” and into places on the internet where it is ok to be racist (see the Daily Stormer) and places you can’t say “Bruce Jenner.” (see Twitter)
Strange times indeed. So, as Hunter S. Thompson said, “Where the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Well, I’m going pro. Let’s see how weird we can get. We are too far into this rabbit hole through the looking glass to go back now, and I’ll be damned if I let Nora O’Donnell or Sean Hannity spew their absurd partisan nonsense into the universe without getting mine. I will die with my boots on.
Without the Freedom To Be Wrong We are Unable to Define Right
In America, you can be a racist asshole and be weirded out by sex changes. I’m pretty sure both of those things are covered in the 1st amendment. That’s the price we pay for free speech. We have to put up with hearing absurdities that we may not agree with as a whole. It is not the job of tech companies to police this. This is a job for the actual police. Yet, our state is being circumvented by people like me with a keyboard and a moderator privilege.
The government of old bald men has absolutely no idea what is going on, or what to do about it. Meanwhile, it’s absolute chaos on the interwebs. People actually believe the earth is flat, which started out as a joke on 4chan. Ask your legislator if he even knows what 4chan is and I highly doubt they have a clue what you are talking about.
But hell, people are allowed to believe that the earth is flat. I’m just telling you that you’ve been “trolled.” If you don’t know what troll is, imagine Mitch McConnell at age 20 getting rejected by his girlfriend and anonymously saying nasty things about her…no wait that’s too similar to the story of how Facebook started. A troll says anything to get a reaction out of you, kind of like a drag queen. You’re either offended or you get it. If you’re offended, well you have fallen into the free speech trap the troll has set for you.
Algorithms Can’t Match Human Judgement
The internet thrives on outrage. It’s algorithms that support this. The algorithms, in many cases, move material that engages audiences to a higher level of visibility in your feed. Maybe you remember something known as the Arab Spring? Well, if not, about seven years ago, there were political uprisings in the middle east that sprang up due to Facebook and its algorithm that used engagement to rank posts. This helped start revolutions, but it couldn’t maintain them, as more fundamentalist and outrageous posts, sometimes sheer trolling, helped further the grip of discourse in the countries. Misinformation and trolling ran rampant, and what was once free for all became a tool to strengthen dictatorship. Elections and opinions are guided or misguided by this algorithmic flaw.
Facebooks algorithm was the pride and joy of the company, and it has been copied the industry over. These algorithms enable people to only hear the ideas they wish, blocking anyone that dares disagree. Hence, we have the birth of the “echo chamber” effect. So, in a world where we only hear what we want, we are less exposed to views we may don’t share with others, regardless of the validity of the ideas expressed. No one is changing their minds. Everyone is dug in and ready for war. This a war of information. It is ugly. That being said, it is only going to get worse as 2020 approaches.
Divide and Conquer
As both left and right further polarize, we remain a nation divided. One side can’t even accept an idea from the other without the ideas merit taken into consideration. Meanwhile, rational people are further jaded and disenfranchised, all stuck in their own “echo chambers” of happiness. Fighting on large scales has led to the formation of a gang mentality with “Mega Maga” on one side and “deranged dogmatic Democrats” on the other The divisiveness has left people with no regard for any opposing views. Discourse is dead.
I’m not sure where we go from here, but as a proud American and defender of the First Amendment, I don’t trust these technocrats and their flawed math formulas to control communications in this country. Ethics are gone in journalism. Everything negative that happens to them is the fault of the other side. Everyone has a scapegoat. This is “mob rule.” Referred to in the Federalist papers,
If our nation remains divided, it is a house that will not stand. I believe Abraham Lincoln said that. Let’s get back to fighting for our country and having reasonable discussions to solve our problems. I said that.