The Internet Is Not The Enemy – Inspired by An Excellent Rant

Yesterday, the wonderful and talented Miranda Ward wrote this brilliant rant entitled ‘The Internet Is Not The Enemy‘.

Which in turn inspired in me a comment so long it kinda deserves its own post. So here it is, but read her post first 🙂

-o0o-

Excellent Rantage.

I feel afronted by the web-phobic ramblings for two reasons – one, just about ever good idea I’ve come across in the last 12 years has been because of the internet. There have been email discussion lists that have changed the course of my life, forums that have connected me to communities that have challenged and supported my various endeavours, found music, videos, books, thinkers, friends… all through recommendations on blogs, sites and social networks. I’ve talked people I’ve never met through potentially life-threatening stress situations, have found an audience for a load of music that has made me a living but which no record label would have a clue what to do with…

Even moreso, every paltry morsel of insight I’ve gleaned from the mainstream media has been tested, corroborated, expanded on, clarified or debunked by the internet. It’s a gloriously disintermediated world where people are actively encouraged to be remarkable because people you care about are watching. Not in a voyeuristic way at all, but as part of a deeper connection that was possible when all relationships were prisoners to geography.

Big media, and the people who glean status, work, meaning and an artificially elevated platform from it are bound to feel threatened, slighted, challenged and disabused of their power by the web. I talk on a daily basis to smarter feminists than Paglia, to better scientists than those who describe twitter as something that only those with a broken sense of self would do, to funnier comics than the TV provides, to more supportive and helpful people that I could possibly find by retreating from the web and…

…and what? What did we do before the web? We were hostages to other people’s community initiatives – be they council, church, school, sport or charitably-led. We were stuck with whatever they offered us. More interested in Kabaddi than football? tough shit, footie’s the only thing available at your local sports ground. Rather talk about contemporary fiction than classics? No dice, your library only runs a dickens appreciation society… Choice is scary, it’s also a very grown up thing, because it requires us to actively seek challenge to our entrenched worldview. But there’s the rub – social networks are far from homogenous. I consciously disagree with almost everyone I’m friends with on a social network, but my own thinking is nuanced, challenged and bettered on an hourly basis by the stream of smart, funny, empassioned information, conversation and community. Sure, there are dickheads. Just as TV has its Clarkson and Newspapers have their Littlejohn, the internet has its fair share of tedious, lying, cretinous bores. But hey, that’s life, shitheads, deal with it.

We’re here, we love it and our lives are better for it. Now, if you want some help understanding it, give us a shout, we’re happy to help.

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3 Comments

  1. Steve, first of all thanks for leaving such a lovely comment, but also I’m so glad you turned it into a post! Some great stuff in here. I like the point about there being tedious dickheads online just as there are everywhere else, because I think the thing that most bothers me about what you so aptly call the “web-phobic ramblings” is the tendency only to focus on the tedious dickheads. As you say – yes, there’s crap out there. But there’s also an awful lot of good, and it seems a shame to ignore that.

  2. I wouldn’t say I felt “hostage” before, as it just took a lot longer to find info, but nobody was keeping me from anything. But the instant, free-flow of info has forever changed everything for the better! Lets just hope we can keep it this way. This is something we as citizens are going to have to be vigilant about. As you say, many shitheads abound, many of them running governments that don’t want us to know everything.

    I agree with Steve.. GREAT RANTAGE! Thank you.

  3. Look, I understand the importance of the Internet as a development, but I’m only 30 and can remember (just about) the world pre-Google. That’s right, webrings and Bulletin Boards. To say to me that the tech has moved on is like observing passenger planes carry a few more people these days than in the 1920’s.

    So far as my own limited experience goes, the massive step has been the expansion of social networking from the more closed BBS and message groups (I’m still on a couple of Yahoo! groups) to provide a wider interaction. I don’t have hundreds of followers or automatically follow back. I no longer really trust Google with anything where I need a balanced view, because the exact search parameters can seriously flavour the results you get. But all of a sudden I have immediate access to a variety of people with diverse experience and a wide range of opinions and knowledge. It’s mind-expanding.

    In the last six weeks, I have discovered… NaNoWriMo; Movember; solobasssteve.com; PoppyRed open mic night; books being given away by my local Uni; and many other little bits and pieces.

    Six weeks! I work for more than 40 hours a week in a factory office. I teach music and write and do my duties as a husband and father. And in my spare time, I dabble online. Six weeks and I’ve seen all this cool new stuff.

    The Internet is not the enemy. The Internet is maybe your library. It doesn’t want to be your friend. If you want to be its friend you’re very wrong. But it’s a fantastic way to make friends, network, learn and share, no?

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