I have on occasion battled with work colleagues and relatives who tell me that the internet is a force for bad and that very little good comes from it. How crazy are they? I mean, the internet is everything and has brought us so much.
However, recent events are worrying me as those who do not seek to protect our interests learn how to manipulate everything for their own ends by reaching millions of people and openly lying to them. They now have the ability to reach out to people whose lives before the internet involved mumbling to themselves on buses and hiding away from society. The internet gives a voice to those who otherwise could not have a proper conversation face to face because they lack the intelligence and ability to think of more than one thing in the space of an hour. They, however, can post some racist nonsense on Facebook or Twitter and dive back under their duvets of hate, and feel proud of themselves.
It gives them a sense of power that has otherwise been absent in their lives and certain politicians are clever enough to understand that. Feed in some lines that feed the insecurity of those who are struggling and they will follow whether you are Hitler, Trump, Mickey Mouse or Farage. They will follow because they believe that they are like you in spite of the fact that the ‘leaders’ completely despise them.
Those who want to do good seem to believe that 99% of people are like them, but they could not be more wrong. As the internet and technology in general become more powerful, so those who are not as bright as others start to struggle. They struggle because technology creates an uneven playing field, one that enables the best to get better and the lesser to do worse. Is that a bad thing? Well, the argument that those who are more intelligent deserve higher salaries than those who are not particularly bright kind of makes sense. Is that really any different than a cave man who is taller and stronger eating more food than the little bloke in the next cave? Survival of the fittest and all that.
What some politicians have done is understand that there are many, many people who feel insecure and who want change, and who do not like this uneven playing field. They blame globalisation for their woes, they blame immigrants because they can’t get good jobs and they will blame anyone or anything they are told to blame because they know no better.
It is ironic that these same politicians are using these people to make the playing field even more unfair and are by association using the internet to turn people’s minds against themselves, without them even knowing it. It’s so clever it hurts, but it is also incredibly destructive and damaging to everyone, and yes I mean everyone. They are offering the promise of opportunities for all, more fairness and a sense that everyone will have the same chances in life. They are now able to effectively gives the world’s knowledge to everyone whereas previously these people would not even have bothered to read a book. And the knowledge they are giving them is a universe away from the truth.
The sad fact is that the promise of some kind of equality is not how the world works. Some people will become billionaires, some will be safe and secure, some will be poor and unfortunately too many will be born into circumstances that mean they never have a chance to get close to something like the internet, let alone clean water and food.
I realise that this is an incredibly patronising article, but I can’t be the only one who believes that the wonderful new technology we have been praising for the past 2 decades is starting to look more than a little dangerous.