Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Can the Internet Grow Up?

As someone who spends a great deal of time online, I am both excited about the potential of the Internet and disappointed at its current level of discourse. The obvious complaint starts when I download my email every morning. If you want to view porn, take illicit medication, or try to get rich by sending money to the sultan of an unknown country, I’m a live and live type. If you’re not hurting anyone, knock yourself out, but please stop sending this junk to me.

While this is an annoyance I’ve learned to live with, my major disappointment is with much of the content of the Internet provides. This unprecedented new technology allows people to debate, discuss, and theorize about the great topics of the day, and so far it has been used primarily to replicate a teacher-less junior high classroom. Certainly there is some quality content, but debate is often reduced to swearing and insults put forth as insight. There’s an irony that this remarkable technical advance is being used as a platform for mindless blather. Being anonymous seems to bring out the worst in many people, and I question whether the people hurling insults would be so bold if they actually had to face their target. Then there is the plethora of base graphic content, the quantity of which seems insane. The hope is that this is just a phase as the Internet tries to grow up. There are a number of sites with quality content, and a number of positive developments, and hopefully the cream will rise to the top and adult conversations and debate will replace the excessive ‘adult content’.


The Practicalist said...

It is frustrating when trying to find a blog that is not all about shock and 8th grade language. You're probably right that most bloggers and commenters would never say those things to the person's face. On the other hand, sometimes, anonymity is a great way to maintain open dialogue, and promote ideas. Sometimes, ideas can get clogged up by fear of offense or confrontation. That does not mean it has to be vulgar, though.

Great post.

kmorrison said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm not against people posting anonymously I think it makes sense for multiple reasons as you pointed out. It's just when people take cheap shots at others without having to stand behind what they say it strikes me as being cowardly.