“Then came the Internet. In all of human history, there’s never been so much access to the relatively raw content of other minds. They mostly turn out to be as limited as our own.”
— I was chatting recently with someone I met over a decade ago during the short period of the Internet when it seemed as if the burgeoning currency of the community would create a new congregation of like-minded individuals who up until that moment had been prevented from truly discovering their tribes, and that this congress would be, on the whole, a good thing. We spoke briefly about that golden era in our memory before I expressed dismay about the current condition of the culture, to which he responded, “Oh, the Internet. Through some quirk it initially obscured, to an extent, just how horrible our species is, but now it is a very polished and perfect mirror,” and between that estimation and the assessment you find above it seems as if we have come upon the most fair and accurate representation of what we’re left with, web-wise, that I know of.
Now, yes, Balk’s Law, the one declaring that “Everything you hate about The Internet is actually everything you hate about people,” and Balk’s Second Law (“The worst thing is knowing what everyone thinks about anything”) indicate I should not in any way have been surprised by this degeneration, but Balk’s Third Law — “If you think The Internet is terrible now, just wait a while” — goes a long way toward excusing my naiveté; things really were much better back then. And they’ll be so much more awful than they are right now, as difficult as that may be to believe. If you’re looking for an optimistic note at the end of this observation I am sorry to say that you will not find one; at the outset I had a brief bit of optimism to offer but the sheer act of getting this all down made me realize just how hopeless it all is for us. Everything is terrible and only getting worse, and that indisputable assertion somewhat downplays just how bad things really are at present. The best I can do is remind you that everything ends, which will have to be enough for now. I’m not happy about it either.