The internet has grown so much I can barely keep up with it. It’s constantly changing and moving and yet, gets more horrible in many ways.
These days you have to understand that people are allowed to send you death threats and talk about you like you aren’t a real person anymore. And some “satirical” news stories aren’t funny at all, they are click-bait full of lies that are hard to discern from real stories. They get excused with a tiny disclaimer somewhere at the bottom of the page if you’re lucky.
Back in the early 2k’s I used to blog sometimes three times a day. Then I had a group political blog and that was an all day sort of affair, bouncing points back and forth. Sometimes in a maddening way, until I shut the thing down because of how ugly it could become. To the point I would wake up in the morning with a stomachache with the first thought being, “What horrible thing is waiting for me on the Cafe site?”
The early days of my “homepages” and blogs were cathartic. I could unload and blog about my internal struggles. Struggles about love, about being fat, about raising kids and being a feminist. About body image, celebrity worship, art and friendships. It was nice to talk about things and send them out into the universe to be accepted by those with whom my messages resonated. You could find little niche groups that liked the same stuff as you and you could easily avoid the stuff you didn’t want to see. Spam was sporadic and ads were easily blocked.
Now, years later the internet is a clusterfuck of rants, ads, violence and everybody is building more and more absurd and angry things for grabbing attention. There are as many lies and scams on the internet as their are news stories and sincere journaling. It’s exhausting.
It used to be that people who didn’t like what I wrote just headed on to the next thing. Maybe once in a while I would get a heckler – most fat haters or woman haters. With my political blog and the popularity of Facebook, though, a new kind of low and ugly emerged full of nasty insults – calling people “libtards” and whatever the ugly word is for conservatives. St some point the cracking facade of public decency fell away and death threats and trolling have become more the norm, no longer hidden away in deep recesses of usenet groups.
I feel like Youtube is on its way out for a medium that has much more manners in its viewers. Ello is on its way in, so we don’t have to endure so much constant advertising and data culling. We are on the precipice of an era where law will catch up with the digital age. Where you won’t be able to hide behind fake names the way you once could and if you make a death threat, you will have to accept responsibility, just like “IRL” because now the digital realm IS real life. It’s not just some place to go and connect with people who like what you like. It’s not just some place to sell your goods. It is a whole world unto itself that has bled into the rest of our real lives and now is part of it.
I’m sick of the death threats circulating and going unchecked. Even I, at times, can’t resist the urge to be impolite because somebody is just being rude and negative in post after post after post. It does not bring out the best in me.
It used to be easier for me to talk about my internal struggles online. I knew that most people reading it didn’t know me and most of them had no way of finding out who I was, unless I wanted them to. If they didn’t like me, then the worst they could do unless they were some kind of super hacker was send me a nasty note via my webpage. But I wasn’t ranting violent and ugly things. I wasn’t hiding because what I was saying was harmful or hurtful or violent or threatening. I just wanted to connect with others who liked the kind of art I made or who wrote poems I liked. And it was unlikely they knew me because there just weren’t nearly the amount of people online back then.
I’m guilty of getting in some online spats – but I’ve never threatened to hurt anybody. And I try to stick to things I would only say if a person was standing there in front of me. But this era of ugliness and violence is overwhelming me. Is it worse than it used to be? Am I imagining it’s worse than it actually is? It seems like you can’t get away from it. And spam is overwhelming and much of it, pornographic.
It used to be that the internet was a much “smaller” place. Now it’s full of attention-grabbing stuff that has become one monotonous roar of voices. Therefore people have to do more and more outrageous things to get attention. People setting themselves on fire on videos and attacking people and shooting things and saying outrageous lies – and for what? Some clicks. Some clicks so people will see what they did. Maybe to make some money. I guess that’s all we ever were and ever will be. I need money too. But I can’t imagine being an online liar and hater just to make some money. So, I suppose I’ll stay pretty poor because I’m not willing to do the things that you have to do these days to garner attention.
I want to write about art and music and friends and love and growing and changing and health and struggles. I want to talk about feminism without threats being hurled at me. This world.
The internet could be cool again. If people could be held accountable for their behavior online as they are in the offline world. I think that time is coming. People are getting exhausted of the inhumanity of rape and murder threats and online bullying that makes people kill themselves. I think in time, this will right itself again and we’ll adjust again…until the next time things get out of control, I suppose.