Sunday, March 12, 2006

I've Figured it Out! (The Problem with The Internet)

Ah, ah, ah! I believe I've made my love-hate relationship with the internet plenty clear in various places at various times on the...uh...internet. I really dislike how much of my time it consumes, as well as how it's probably single-handedly screwed up my social life. I basically grew up on this piece of crap. (I've said before I'm probably part of one of the earliest generations for such a thing to be possible. I wasn't breastfed by the monster but it definitely took me over through adolescence.)

Now! One of my specific shames with the internet is that there's something inherently shameful and embarassing about being so involved with it. I want to LATCH onto that specific aspect and explore why it is. WHY IT IS???

I not long ago read some interview with these two people who wrote a book about internet culture and how kids are growing up on it and so forth. These people were very optimistic about the whole thing and acted like "Oh, what is the difference? Some people have their sports and their clubs and their going outside and having sex and some people go the way of the internet!" as though it were just a different outlet for sociality.

Okay, I can see that making sense for people who fit in with, like, some certain group. Like people who love the role-playing games can CERTAINLY find people they will enjoy fraternizing with internet style, fine. I still don't think it particularly healthy. It certainly does decrease any sort of physical activity (not that kids like this are so partial to such a thing and I myself am not, but still it impressively manages to render movement even further obsolete for us). Still, for people like this, I suppose there's no reason to really feel ashamed. Sure, other, more social people are still gonna think you are a loser but if you love them online RPGs and you like the type of people you play them with, you really have no reason to care what the "popular" types think.

BUT HERE IS WHY IT'S SHAMEFUL FOR ME.

I believe at this point we've all seen that wonderful little picture of a retarded child crossing a finish line with the caption "Arguing on the internet is like competing in the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded." This is the root of the internet problem! Why exactly is it that arguing with someone on the internet is so retarded? Yes, you aren't seeing each other face to face but you're still a human being on your end and they're still some sort of organism that can type on their end. You're seperated by quite a distance, but an argument's an argument is it not?

NO. IT'S NOT. AND THIS IS WHY:

I think everyone is pretty aware of the internet's tendency to allow people to open up a lot more than they normally would. There's anonymity! You can say whatever the hell you want and pretend to be whatever you like and no one is the wiser! Additionally, you're likely so far away from whoever it is you're interacting with and they know so little real information about you that they can't very well come kick your ass can they? Well, maybe with some research they can, but ostensibly and for the purposes of this argument, no, they cannot. So here is the problem.

Let's say you're arguing with a person on the internet about hot dogs brands. You think Sabrett is the best (you're right, by the way, and you should fucking wreck anyone who defies you!) and the other person is all about Ball Parks (idiot!). Like many debates, you and this person are both set in your ways and are unlikely to change no matter how much ranting and raving goes down. However, it's the internet, isn't it? You've got nothing to lose and just not responding would be like admitting defeat, would it not? So you go back and forth on hot dogs for days on end and achieve shit nothing overall!

This is VERY DIFFERENT FROM REAL LIFE.

The fact is if you ran into this person in real life, the chances you'd even get into a discussion with them regarding their hot dog preference are slim to nil! You'd probably walk past each other on a street with nary a nod to acknowledge one another's presences!! This is why the internet is wrong.

The internet puts you in contact with people you would normally not even afford a second glance.

Yes, you're talking to people, but they're people who in real life you'd spot, you'd say "I don't know them and therefore couldn't care less about them" and you'd move on. Again, if you join a specific internet club filled with the type of people you like, that's fine. I'm sure you'll have a ball. Personally, I avoid any sort of club functions (or, indeed, any gathering of more than ten people) like the plague on crack. However, the internet serves to basically put me in touch with a series of little clubs, filled with jerks I'd hate if I ever had to be around in person.

This is why it's shameful. I'm wasting time (whether arguing or interacting in any other way) on people whom I hate. I don't do this in real life. Why should I do it on the internet? I shouldn't.

And that's the problem.

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