I read this article from New York magazine and think it poses some interesting questions. It mainly asks “when did the internet become so nice?” But I think we should be asking, what are the implications of this niceness?
The article suggests that ten years ago the internet was a very different place…and sort of a scary one, with predators around every corner and brawls breaking out all over webpages. But know the internet seems in some way fundamentally different from the Wild West it once was. Today, google searches seems safer and more direct, Facebook “likes” have become something of an obsessions (as carltonharris discusses in his post below) and apps like instgram and snapchat have catapulted “selfie” pictures out from the clutches of 13-year old girls and onto the phones of just about everyone, where likes and simplistic comments also rule.
So if google is making us stupider and the internet (or at least social media) is making us nicer, what does that ultimately make us? Simpletons? I’m not so much worried about being nice or relying on google to get me through my calc homework, but I do worry that our hyper-dependence on the web could change how we make changes.
We saw what kind of power the internet and social media can hold through Arab Spring starting December, 2010. But in the US it seems as though our teens and adults are more caught up in liking someone’s vacation pics than demanding social change. Sure we don’t have Hosni Mubarak as out president, but we do have plenty of corruption and inequality that should be addressed. And maybe it would be if we weren’t so caught up in our likes and comments ratios. Perhaps we could and should be doing more bigger and bolder things and doing them more critically.