It’s been a long time since I posted here. I’ve pondered the notion of taking it up again a number of times, the reasons for which will become apparent as this post develops. But someone posted a couple of replies yesterday so I decided now was the time.
I wasn’t exactly on the internet from the start. In fact I resisted for some time, believing the hype that told me the only thing which was guaranteed was the porn. This turned out to be untrue. But I have been around for a long time. I began in about 2000 so it’s been quite a number of years, and during that time I’ve observed its development, the changes, many of them far from beneficial. Allow me to offer a few of those observations historically to give context.
After some initial fumblings and the feeling I was trying to fly a spacecraft with no lessons I managed to work out the main value of it was to communicate and to be free to express oneself. It was wild country for sure. A sort of chaotic utopia, in that anything you put out there you effectively gave away. That rather suited my personality. Yet paradoxically there seemed all sorts of opportunities for communicating in relative privacy. For example, the number of forums I participated in, helped run or created, all had the options to have layers of transparency, so you could converse in depth without prying eyes, yet enable openness for the newcomer, discovering who they were before they could enter any inner sanctum. If anything privacy was greater than in real life.
These were meaningful times for me. I forged some deep friendships, ran courses for people all over the world, shared creatively with numerous people, found some of like mind (a rare thing for me), expanded and explored with some fascinating people.
Then big business realised the potential for money making here, and it all changed. From being a free for all, a messy, chaotic but fulfilling expansion, it became a free for none downward spiral into a consumerist nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very helpful to be able to buy most of what you need with the click of a button when you live in the middle of nowhere. But the loss of the freedoms of expression, natural community, being herded into ever more limiting spaces unless you’re desirous of becoming a ‘celebrity’ and making lots of money for whatever provider you happen to be with (and which just isolates in a different way) is not a good thing for anyone other than those who rake in the cash.
Perhaps one of the curious things about it is that there was perhaps an inevitability that humans who want a repeated tiny hit of pleasure will become totally addicted to the screens they carry round with them. Most of us will have seen a number of people in a room all looking at their phones and not speaking to one another. In fact they may even be looking at what each other are doing online. Whether by accident or design big business is cashing in on these desires, as what happens gets ever more trivial or manipulated, and because we find ourselves being told the virtual spaces we use belong to someone else (how did that happen?) we have no right or options any more. There is no longer much natural flow. Well, perhaps a little, but it happens in spite of those who now run the joint rather than being encouraged. It is a cacophony of voices, and I’m uncertain as to whether there is much to be gained any more. So much of it is drama, lowest common denominator stuff, with the more thoughtful, expressive and creative gradually disappearing from view. How is that good for anyone?
Perhaps its time to return to the physical world, which is so much less populated, and where visceral real life engagements may perhaps offer the depths the internet rarely does any more.