One-hundred years from now, I’m convinced most of the modern world will have almost no reason to walk outside their front door. Ever.
Just think about it.
The internet (if it isn’t already) will be all-powerful. Every consumer good will be deliverable instantly. Anyone will be able to contact anyone FTL (faster than light.) All services will be available always. If we think communication is fast today, imagine where it’ll be a century from now.
Pretty crazy, right?
But for now we’re still kind of in the internet’s adolescence. The net survived its www.infancy and it’s gotten just big and smart enough to be dangerous.
Consider, if you will, these nine observations about the strange state of the modern internet.
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Observation 1 – Each social media hub has its own personality
I’m not sure anything can illustrate the differences better than this graphic. But what I’m really not sure of is just when it was each site evolved into its own little solar system.
Examples: Twitter and Facebook, though wildly different in interface, are for funny stuff, news bytes, porn, and marketing (some of which I’ve been guilty of.) Instagram seems to appeal to younger crowds, artists, and photographers. The Pinterest fan base is mostly female, while pretty much no one uses Google+. Obviously I’m generalizing a bit, but it’s undeniable how the quirks of each social media site have attracted user bases that are so very different from each other.
I think it’s pretty cool. Except for LinkedIn, which pretty much sucks. 🙂
Observation 2 – People still argue about politics online
If you added up every occurrence of a political debate in the history of the world, you’d probably have a hard time finding ten instances in which someone’s mind was actually changed for the better. In polite society, political debates in conversation are verboten, but no so much on the internet. A quick scan and breakdown of my own personal Facebook feed reveals that 60% (not kidding) of the posts are political in tone. And no, it’s not open-ended, objective stuff taking place. It’s hostile, “I’m right! You’re wrong!” incendiary warfare. Personally, I find it obnoxious. But perhaps more relevant is that everyone on the net is happy to say lots of stuff, but rarely does anyone actually do anything about it.
Why is that?
Observation 3 – The ascension of spam and clickbait
I despise clickbait with such passion I wrote a big piece on it. But let’s be serious for a moment. Spam and clickbait are existential threats to our beloved net. They crowd out marketing for actual, quality goods. They take up space that might otherwise be inhabited by cool, interesting content. Despite these facts, most people struggle to spot spam or clickbait at first sight. And the real trouble is that since the internet has no singular governing body, there’s no one-stop elimination strategy to get rid of this junk. It just keeps spreading.
What does it mean? Well…we’d better prepare ourselves for sneakier, smarter, and more diabolical clickbait. Because while we’re busy going nuts on Amazon Prime, the spammers are out there designing better ways to siphon money and time from the rest of us.
And I think it sucks.
Observation 4 – Free porn for everyone
More than anything, I just really, really want to know how pay-for-porn websites stay in business. I mean, with literally thousands of free porn sites out there, it feels like the entire triple-x pay-per-view industry should collapse. Right? Imagine if a bunch of companies started giving away free, high-quality cars, TV’s, and houses. Wouldn’t all the legitimate industries dry up within weeks? But no…not with porn. Making it free seems only to inspire more and more videos to be created.
I guess even when sex doesn’t sell, it sells.
Observation 5 – All the @#$%*&! memes
In my web series Anti-Meme Fridays, I surmised that one day in the future everyone on Earth will communicate solely via memes, thus eliminating the need for actual spoken language.
Ok, maybe that’s a little heavy handed. But in all truth, memes are everywhere. They’re not stopping anytime soon, even though 90% of them are misspelled, unfunny, cheesy, or annoyingly motivational in tone. What I can’t figure out, and what I need your help in solving, is how it is we arrived at this point. I can’t imagine anyone on this planet who actually likes a bunch of boring pictures and quotes crowding out everything else on their social media feed.
And yet….here we are.
Observation 6 – The prevalence of perverts
Based on the tales pretty much all my female friends and family have told, nearly 100% of the adult male population has sent unsolicited photos of their anatomy to a woman at least once in their life. But seriously, there are way more creepers among us than we ever could’ve guessed. They’re everywhere, and the internet makes it easy for them. I’m willing to bet we all know several dudes who are like this, but we have no idea what they’re up to. And it’s not just the rapey dudes spamming junk pics to every woman they can, but also other creeper types, not limited to but including: guys who threaten violence, guys who get irrationally angry when rejected, and guys who get extremely insulting in everyday social media forums.
Gentlemen, we’re better than this, right?
Observation 7 – Everything is based on opinion
The headline tags for several major news websites are as follows:
CNN – ‘Breaking News, Latest News and Videos’
Fox – ‘Breaking News Updates, Latest News Headlines’
Huffington Post – (Their description is too long to type, but it’s pretty much similar to CNN and Fox, while admitting a sprinkle of ‘entertainment.’)
And so and so forth…
As a kid, I remember learning about this little thing called Journalism. I was taught such terms as “unbiased” “objective” and “factual.” I remember the days when news reporters were calm, serious, and almost indifferent in most scenarios.
Those days are dead. Scour the blogs, articles, and links of every major news outlet on the internet these days, and what do you mostly see? Editorials. Not that the articles in question typically identify themselves as opinion-based, but that’s what they are nonetheless. Objectivity appears to go as far as reporting names and body-counts, but that’s where it stops. Everyone has an angle, especially the reporters. Media isn’t where one goes to find truth. Nowadays, it’s all about entertainment.
Observation 8 – No one knows how to use hashtags
Seriously. Just stop.
Observation 9 – Artists around the world have a home
…even this douche.
By and large, it’s a good time to be a writer, painter, graphic designer, or any other kind of artist. The modern net allows things that just weren’t possible as recently as ten years ago. Authors can self-publish via dozens of outlets. Artists like this awesome lady here have a home to display their work without needing to hunt down big, pretentious galleries. I mean…these are good times.
But there is one little drawback: piracy. No, not Blackbeard holding a cutlass to our necks. If you’ve ever posted a cool piece of art, uploaded an awesome song you’ve created, or written something digitally awesome, it’s likely (even probable) that many other individuals have downloaded it illegally, plagiarized it, or otherwise distributed your work against your wishes. Some won’t care about a few pirate raids. But for others (me among them) piracy is seriously bad for bizniz. It sucks.
Seems no matter what infrastructure a society settles into, there will always be those who nip at the edges, seeking an advantage. Digital society is no different.
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Be assured, there are darker (much darker) corners of the internet than the things I’ve touched on above.
But that’s a list for another day…
If you like dating on the aforementioned web, this is for you.
But if you prefer seeing your friends face-to-face, try this.
J Edward Neill