Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Internet: It Can Be Pretty Dumb, Bless Its Heart

I like the internet.  Most people do, but the majority like it just for Wikipedia and Facebook and Pandora and e-mail.

I like it for that, but also to read a million blogs and spend too much time on imgfave and imgur and humor websites and alternative news sources and looking at memes etc etc.... I don't like the internet enough to spend time on reddit and 9gag but I like it enough to have a vague idea of what they are. (And not want to visit.)

So I'm above a regular internet user but not quite at the-internet-is-my-life user.

But as much as I like the internet, let's please remember it can be really dumb

As in, intellectually challenged. 

Sometimes, I get blinded by my love for it and forget that. Like that crazy friend you have who says all the hilarious snarky comments, so you try to brush under the rug the fact that they might actually believe that marijuana will cure all diseases.  

Of course, there are tons of smart people using the internet, but as a mechanism, as a medium of communication, the internet seems to maximize opportunity for stupidity. (I mean, have you seen the nastiness that starts in a youtube comment conversation? About something as lighthearted as a video of a cat? Carnage.)  The anonymity and distance let people say hateful things and air angry, reactionary opinions. (Like the reactions to Olympic losses that bring out the worst....) But even the clever, kind people that love the internet can sometimes be suckered in by adorable puppies and forget to think deeply about biased news articles they read. (Like, well, me.) 

I love sassy websites, and most of them aren't meant to have much substance, just hilarious-ness. But I realized today that a lot of the humor websites I visit had gotten so into laughing at other people that they had completely lost any self-awareness or logic they ever had.

THIS comic is an example of the dumb part of the internet: some good points, mostly illogical, and almost too clever and funny to argue with. It's the "hey, take a stereotype of people we dislike and laugh at it until we forget that anything else exists about their beliefs/culture/humanity".  And THIS is a great reply to the comic! A reply that actually understands the medium of the internet. 

It would be fine if the same people that read these comics and other websites making fun of people with different beliefs also read say, the blogs of people with different beliefs. Or the New York Times article about their beliefs or the National Geographic article about their culture.  But they don't. So these stereotypes are all they know. And the fact that the stereotypes are funny make it real to them. And the internet perpetuates and perpetuates until a bunch of people laughingly hate another bunch of people for no deeper reason except for some comics they saw and that time that dude cut them off in the street or said he didn't like memes. 

Research doesn't go deeper than wikipedia, but unfortunately hate does.

One comic isn't a big deal. One disparaging photo ain't no thang. But thousands and millions of them stick in your head. The internet is not always deep (as in, profound) but it is wide. A hundred major Hollywood films and internet images portraying women as hyper-sexualized and what do we do to our female politicians first thing? Put their heads on bikini bodies. 

Put then we put it on the internet and laugh at it, so it's ok right?

PS Check out Cracked for humor that is hilarious, clever and surprisingly educational!

No comments:

Post a Comment