The Internet Is Jolie Laide
I keep following and unfollowing Farhad Manjoo on Twitter. For one, he posts too much, and for another, there's something ... treacly about his sentiments. In the latest installment of his "State of the Art" tech column for the New York Times, "The Internet's Loop of Action and Reaction Is Worsening," he asserts that the internet has become a terrible, dangerous thing. "The Internet wasn't supposed to be this ugly," he bellyaches, bemoaning the various ways the web has gone bad: hot takes, social media sparring, the Islamic State.
It's all very disappointing, he whines, pointing to John Perry Barlow's vision of a kinder, gentler internet, circa 1996: a cyberspace place better than meat space, "more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.” How ... optimistic. Instead, we've got beheading videos, Twitter faux-rage, and "2 Girls 1 Cup."
The idea that the internet would offer up something superior to reality was the first misguided thought. The next wrong turn was that if it offered up the the opposite instead, something had gone wrong. In fact, the violent, tumultuous, deeply conflicted world spewed across the screens of our desktops, iPads, and mobile devices mirror us exactly how we are, which, of course, is exactly what we want to see. The war doesn't exist overseas, it exists within. Humanity's perversions aren't born on PornTube sites, they're expressions of our own twisted minds. The internet of 2015 reflects us truly: tortured and deluded, in denial and agape, salivating for something that makes us feel like something other than what we are -- slabs of tissue parked like inanimate objects in front of a pixel otherworld that dances in front of us -- and makes us feel, a little, for a moment: afraid, awestruck, consumed by the horror, the horror that, in the end, is us.