The Worst Thing About the Internet   Leave a comment

I remembered when I was a kid when my mom and our nanny were talking about this pamphlet they got from people passing them around outside the grocery store. I was 8 years old at the time (this was 1992) and could barely read in English. I knew enough to read the pamphlet headline: End of the world in 1999. They were talking about Revelations in the Bible. The pamphlet spoke about the wrongly dead coming back to life. It also talked about the good people being taken with the bad ones left behind. I didn’t understand this concept as well as a kid, but I remembered thinking this would be like an alien mother ship taking all the good people away from Earth. This gave me a scare for a few weeks. Then, like most kids, I stopped asking questions and moved on. All the adults stopped talking about it, so it gave me a sense of security while still partly scared deep down.

Stories and rumors like these spread around cities through word of mouth, soothsayers and the gullible. Some were famous enough to get radio and TV time. People were particularly gullible and believe everything. Growing up, I look back to it all and found it both silly and alarming. It’s silly because adults are embarrassed to be found wrong, especially by a child. It’s alarming that people still spread these rumors and just as many wholly believe them.

My aunt had a “dumb” moment one time. My cousins and I were playing at our house. She came running over, screaming for her kids about something happening in the world. She made us turn on the TV and change the channel to HBO (of all the channels). There was a news reporter talking about an invasion. There were people running and in panic in the streets and other damages. It cuts back to the news reporter signing off and ending the broadcast with the static screen. Then the credits rolled in. My cousins were still asking our aunt (their mother) if everything is OK. I was speaking to myself loudly, saying not not to worry about it as this was just a movie made to look like a real event. My aunt was just staring at the screen and answered in single words to our cousins. They left and went home. I’m still amused about the whole encounter. I think my aunt got embarrassed for believing the movie to be real and didn’t bother explaining her weird behavior. Her heart was in the right place, but she probably felt betrayed by it all.

Fake stories and rumors are still spread around the world in pretty much the same way. The only difference now is that we have the Internet. For all the advancements and convenience it gave the world, I think the worst thing about the Internet is giving stupidity a voice. Many have called this time period the Information Age. Anything we want to know, we can learn online. It’s not immune to misinformation, unfortunately.

It’s probably a human defect inherit to all of us. We put too much trust in the written word. We believe what we want to believe. We read with our own voice in our head or imagine how the words are said by the source (implied source, at least). We project our own understanding and interpret them as we see fit.

“So it was written, so it shall be done.” Not all the time. Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.

“To say that nothing is true, is to realize that the foundations of society are fragile, and that we must be the shepherds of our own civilization. To say that everything is permitted, is to understand that we are the architects of our actions, and that we must live with their consequences, whether glorious or tragic.”

There are some serious truths in that quote. Do you think this is true? Or do you just want to believe it? Awake yet?

I’m done.

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Posted July 11, 2014 by StupidSystemus in Musings

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