Why the Internet Will Never Grow Up

I saw an interesting clip the other day of a guy promoting his book; Jon Ronson, and the book is called “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.”
It’s about the phenomenon of internet shaming, which is one somebody does or says something and the internet response is viral and vitriolic, swift and vicious. It’s an interesting topic. Some day I might even read the book.
But the interviewer (whose job it is, obviously, to lob softballs at the interviewee) said something like “Social media is obviously in its infancy. Do you think we’ll grow out of this phase?” to which the author (who’d probably suggested the question himself) answered something like “I certainly hope so, and think this book might contribute to that.”
Well, I don’t think so. It would be nice, it would be great if the internet were to evolve into the great marketplace of ideas it has the potential to be, and at some sites it already has, but I don’t think we’ll ever get past the mob mentality, the curse of the lowest common denominator, the cyber lynchings and stuff like that. There are a few reasons why: First, human beings have a memory only slightly better than goldfish, who swim round and round and every time they see the little castle is the first time. (or so it’s been said – I don’t know if that’s ever been tested) How often do you see somebody posting “Name a city that doesn’t have an A in it – bet you can’t!” as if nobody’s ever seen that before? Pretty damned often, right? So, we are condemned to see the same stuff over and over again.
Another reason is the age thing. There will always be somebody who is using facebook for the first time, people turn 9 every day. And they’re going to post some stupid shit and forward even stupider shit.
However much the technology might improve, facebook, twitter and all other forms of social media still are collectives of individuals, and human beings are not improving, or at least not at the speed of technology.
My last class of the week, on Friday afternoon, is a group of boys who are, I’d say, all between 8 and 11. They’re a good bunch of kids. They’re smart, they’re nice, they’re funny. Yesterday, though, I decided to read them Dr. Seuss’s story about the scary pale green pants with nobody inside ’em.
They thought it was a laugh riot because it gave them lots of opportunities to use the words ‘poop’ and ‘butt’ (which they did NOT learn from me) and to make fart noises.
“This is the future,” I thought.


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