“The Internet is Broken.” Safety First, No Unaccompanied Children Beyond this Point
By David Carr
It seems the internet is doing exactly what it was designed to do: allow people to share information. The problem is the information reflects the best and worst of abilities of humanity, delivered at the exact time and place best for the user, regardless age, intent or judgment of the content . Why should we think things would be any different. The internet works great! We can watch just about anything we want, learn about anything, find old and new friends, develop new skill sand observe the curated personas they choose to share. Visual or relational standards and perspectives of people accepting every screen to be reality have shifted. Ages of interpretative cues have been undermined with seductive reflections, often existing in contaminated puddles. We have gone from walking in the woods to standing on mountains, equipped with zoom lens and listening devices that can observe many events or ideas around our planet. We no longer have to exercise caution when following whims of curiosity, expect for fear of tracking software, cookies and viruses. People used to look each other in the eye, process facial and relational clues, listen to voice tone to process emotion and get to know others based on their character and personal history. Today, anybody with a little or no money can create a presence where they can say or do anything for intent, fabricate audio, visual and experiential documentation, then spread that message far and wide with a page boost or SEO. Consumers of content are offered a river of two dimensional experiences, often with little means to clarify, prioritize or dismiss the experiences, which may be introduced by trusted yet gullible real world friends and family.
As a regular reader of The New York Times I have been fortunate to read the April 30, 2017 article “Can Facebook fix it’s Big Bug?” after which I sent the following message to Mr Zuckerberg, hoping to initiate a conversation.
“I would like to discuss interpersonal systemic relational issues that Facebook influences. What people do is their nature, how we interpret others has much to do with the reality we want, which is as unique individuals, despite the barriers (internal or external) that exist. When Facebook can help people know themselves as well as people think they know the manicured news feed personalities, maybe we can build the authentic community of our virtual dreams. We can learn from those who stand opposed to us by understanding why they, and we, are where we are now, where we came from in terms of life experience, and how mindfully moving into the future can be beneficial for all parties.
a)We learn about the world when we increase our ability to be confident and secure.
b)Fake news needs to be addressed as that with verification points, since news and opinion are different.
c) Spirited populism is a knee jerk reaction to exploitation, ignoring symptoms that have previously existed.
d)A social infrastructure exists as long as we know who we are talking to. I know all my FB friends as real people, not a list of people who want to be my virtual friend for unknown reasons.
e) A global community works for everyone when there is opportunity to achieve Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
f)People want hope, opportunity and to know whats happening in their world, not lies.
g) Bubbles are comforting but they burst.
h)Terrorism and pandemics are symptoms of existing problems and conditions that (may) have not become systemic in a global level, like over fishing is a form of aqua-cultural terrorism.
Conclusion..I hope people at FB read my work, I want the future to be something we can be proud we shaped”
That was the end of my comment
I did not truly expect a response, yet maybe my message of personal responsibility and objective interpretation of data has already been discussed on the left coast by persons deeper in the social media matrix than I. Yet I wonder why the artists who painted this surreal reality are surprised the colors ran when the painting was left in the storms of human emotion and intent. Does everybody not understand everything on the screen is like movie magic, even when we want it to be so just for moment? Is this some kind of magical thinking that is reinforced with manipulated imagery and words that coincide with our inner dreams, fears and motivations? PT Barnum was right when he said “there’s a sucker born every minute” as people buy lottery tickets, snake oil, shoes that make you lose weight, and diet soda with fried food, expecting the results they imagine.
Evan Williams was quoted saying “I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place, I was wrong about that.” I don’t agree with Evan, since the good outweighs the bad, piece for piece, post for post, but the bad is more attractive. We have all learned more about each other, to the point where it’s sometimes little uncomfortable now. Development is a work in progress, while voyeurism seems interesting until you find yourself locked in the chair, forced to experience things you did not intend to see.
Trolls seem to be all the thing in the discussion of social media these days, with this article stating trolling and abuse are behaviors the platforms are unable to stop, fake news runs rampant, and four out of 10 adult internet users said that they had been harassed online. Well, now that we know things have not changed in 1000 years, why are we so suddenly concerned? People have been disagreeing for thousands of years in bars, town halls, back alleys and other places. People have gossiped by the well and campfires for thousands of years , while eavesdroppers have spied on conversation since colonial times. People have been calling each other names since kindergarten, and some angry, disillusioned people are just not going to stop. I have been harassed driving, in line at supermarkets and for not giving a homeless guy more than a quarter. So what is the right thing to do?
First don’t internalize the angry words from people who don’t truly know all about you. Nobody fully knows another’s struggles and fears, they see only moments. Try instead to imagine the source of this hostile frustration, and need to be heard by the trolling individual. What kind of person directs such aggression, doubt and character assassination to another in a public space, preying on the deepest, darkest fears of sometimes fragile individuals? I have a few good ideas from my experience with systemic therapy. People who want change in their lives, who want to be recognized, want to be accepted, or who do not know how to deal with the face in the mirror. As connected as the internet makes us, I find myself alone with my keyboard as I write this instead of looking into eyes, conversing, hearing emotionalism, sitting at a table or circle of chairs.
Second, as a target of trolling, realize you have bravely stepped, or been forced into the virtual spotlight, and there is always a tomato in the hand of somebody in the audience. You might get hit with a dream stealer’s insult or degradation, but remember, you are a work in progress, and this is just a computer enhanced(position of public viability (bully pulpit). Nobody is perfect, yet those that find fault sometimes know about guilt and shame from personal experience, since they claim to be able to identify areas for improvement in others. The stronger, connected person focuses on pushing up, not down, their virtual neighbors, pondering issues and opinions that cause discomfort, while reflecting on personal tolerances, prejudices, expectations and values, not the accusations of other person. There are many proverbs about focusing on ourselves before we find fault in others, which is a good place to begin. Every day we have to choose between hope and despair, learning or ignorance, acceptance or exclusion and the unlimited potential of tomorrow. We are the sum of our experiences as everyday we gather broader perspective whether we realize it or not. Sometimes the reflection is not what we may have hoped, yet but the reflection of the moment can become a path to where we want to be in the future.
These days we have a broader horizon of information to consider when we peer into the well of possibility presented by our streaming, screaming screens. Now is the time to step back and commit to the due diligence of Caveat Emptor, a principle in commerce which can be applied to online information, where without a warranty of authentication the buyer of the story assumes the risk by accepting the terms. There have been some pretty far out stories floated including a candidate with Parkinson disease, a candidate killing a DNC staff member, and a pizza parlor story that tricked a man into shooting employees because he was convinced the were harming children. Did the Pope endorse a presidential candidate? It would have been easy enough to find out, if one wanted to know the truth. Discernment of information is the key when we are directly confronted with individual agendas, disinformation, alternative truths, shell corporations and botnets exponentially creating cyber propaganda. My personal practice of due diligence causes me to call out some of my friends for fakenessin the hope that we will all be part of the solution instead of the problem. Now is the time for Social Media platforms to aggressively identify keyword sets to authenticate the absence of verified truths.
When I read about online suicides I feel such sadness knowing the inability to imagine a better tomorrow does not last forever. Things happen. Time passes, and we will all become the people we want to be, just not as fast as we would sometimes like. Every day we have an opportunity to begin a new chapter, by learning more, wearing different clothes, breathing deeper, looking at different things, eating different foods, joining a new group, deciding to develop a new talent, or just helping somebody who is in more need. When I ran group therapy I was amazed that everyone found something that was worse than their worst experience in a group of 20 people. When we look around and focus on helping others instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, things immediately get better, because expectation changes to concern, concern leads us to compassion, compassion leads us to connection and new beginnings
Finally the money. Follow the money they say, but I say follow your heart. I choose to craft ideas by the window because I hope my words will make a difference. I am always so happy our minds can connect though the wires and satellites of our modern world. I have written multiple pieces on Medium, Facebook, Linked In, and two books on Smashwords, with minimal reaction and less than $10 income. When I write I am building a foundation that can not be seen from afar. Creating space for critical analysis, consensus and creative problem solving is a chance to make a new reality, to create the world we, stewards of the present, can to pass to our grandchildren with pride. I write because my words are my introduction to the tomorrow I can not imagine. We all have have the power to create reality instead of passively absorb what is being proposed as important or relevant on the 500 channels of cable or streaming river of imagery and text.
Copyright2017 by David Carr. All Rights reserved
Author#VirtualImmersion (Drowns Holistic Development)