There’s a lot to like about the Internet, at least the concept of the Internet, but there’s a lot to hate about the way the Internet actually functions and how people actually use it. Whereas I’d love to think that the Internet can help mankind to embrace diversity, increase knowledge and help bring us together, most of the time, it’s used for the stupidest things.
The Internet that I started out on is not what we have now. The Internet started as a means for military and government communications and then moved to be widely available in universities. While I agree, lots of college students are pretty stupid, at least they have some form of basic education at hand and I’d like to think that they can at least get some intelligent, or at least reasonably coherent ideas across. That seems to be gone today. Here’s my list of things about the Internet that I really, really hate, especially in the atheist and political realm.
Memes are a concept coined by Richard Dawkins for an idea that spreads among people within a culture. In the online world and especially in social media, this often takes the form of a picture with some pithy comment written on it. Memes are stupid, especially because they tend to be overused. When a new one pops up on Twitter or Tumblr, you can be sure that you’ll see it absolutely everywhere as desperate short-attention-span losers spam it to the world as fast as their little fingers will point and click at it. Unfortunately, they don’t really accomplish anything. Having the face of House, M.D. staring at you while you read a quote from an imaginary person on a TV show doesn’t mean anything.
What I really hate are the people whose entire output online, especially on social media sites like Twitter, consists of nothing but other people’s quotes. They can’t even say anything interesting on their own, they have to rely on other people to produce content for them, which they then endlessly repeat. You want to know something though? I really don’t give a damn what Ricky Gervais has to say. I don’t care what clever George Carlin quotes you can come up with. I don’t care about Hume, Voltaire or any other philosopher have to say. If I did, I’d be following their Twitter feed. If you don’t have anything intelligent to say on your own, shut the fuck up.
I don’t mind if you have something particularly interesting that you want to show to your followers, but there are a ton of people on Twitter and elsewhere who do nothing at all but retweet other people’s material. They have nothing to say on their own, just like the quoters and the memers, they ride on the coat-tails of other people’s content. If you have nothing intelligent to say on your own, stop talking, you’re just contributing to the constant background hum of idiocy.
I’ve gotten into this on my other blog but it applies here too. Why is it that virtually every social media site bursts at the seams with people trying to shove their latest book, blog post or online article into your face whether you want to see it or not? Most of them are trying to make a buck, get ad revenue, bring more eyes to their advertising, etc. Whatever happened to having something worthwhile of your own to say? Okay, I know that, to some small degree, I’m part of this crowd because everything I blog about gets announced to social media sites, but I do it once, I don’t repeat it over and over and over again, ad nauseum.
I’ll be honest, I have never used my block/mute abilities so much in my entire life as I have since I started using Twitter. I have literally thousands of people on permanent mute, I will never see anything they say ever again and there are many, many more that deserve the same treatment. These are trolls, the kind that purposely try to piss people off, as well as people who are just too damn stupid to be tolerated. These aren’t necessarily kids though, often they are people clearly in their 30s and 40s who act like they’re 6.
Fuck Stupid People
This is certainly not limited to the Internet but I seriously wonder how these people manage to dress themselves in the morning. They can’t spell, they can’t string a complete sentence together and they cannot post a coherent thought to save their lives. These aren’t trolls because trolls are obnoxious on purpose. These people just don’t know any better and what’s worse, they just don’t care. Unfortunately, it’s not just the clueless and idiotic, I also say…
Fuck Wilfully Ignorant People
These are perhaps the worst of the bunch because, where trolls purposely try to upset people and stupid people don’t have the capacity to have an intelligent discussion, these people can do it, they just choose not to. They’re not interested in reality, they don’t care about the facts, they don’t want to know the truth, they are satisfied wallowing in self-imposed ignorance because it makes them feel good. These are the people that we ought to be able to reach, they’re just not open to being reached and have no interest in logic and no knowledge of reason.
We have this wonderful tool that can do a lot of good in the world and look at what we’re doing with it. There are more people out there trolling than there are learning. There are somehow a huge number of people managing to type with their fingers in their ears and their eyes clenched tightly closed. Regrettably, it’s just getting worse as time goes on, the number of people capable, interested or competent to discuss subjects rationally is decreasing and these are the people who most need to get some common sense knocked into their religion-addled brains.
So what do we do? I’m looking for solutions.