The amount of stories and commentary in mainstream news sources about how the internet ruins childhood, attention spans and social interactions, is immense. If you were to arrive in this day and age with a time-machine from the 1960s, you’d think that the internet was the first possible thing one could possibly use: giant corporations frantically praying on consumers which become the victim of the technological age.
Reality check: using the internet is, for the most part, a choice. Apart from a number of administrative applications that have moved exclusively online, and a subscriptions that will need an email address, there is no necessity to be constantly connected. It is therefore a choice, and a wise one at that.
I cannot stress enough how silly the technopanic towards the internet is. Google Maps gives us the ability to navigate in cities we don’t know, translation pages do such an incredible job that the question arises how long text-translators will still be a thing, people share millions of pictures, videos, books, artworks or songs for absolutely nothing. You pay N-O-T-H-I-N-G. The internet gave us access to stay in touch with far-away friends, and it even gave us Bitcoin for crypto’s sake! Don’t get me wrong: I get the side effects of cyber-bullying, privacy breaches and organised crime moving online. But when mean comments on the internet get more attention than the fact that social media has enabled liberal revolutions, then I cannot for the life of me understand how we prioritise talking points. I love cynicism as much as the next guy, but recognising that something’s pretty darn awesome shouldn’t be hard to do.
If we had let bureaucrats and regulation advocacy groups be in charge of the wold wide web, we’d still be using dial-up and we’d say “thank god for the government, because without it we wouldn’t have internet at all”. And that is the essence of technological pessimists: they will use any disadvantage to technological progress in order to start a polemic and call for regulation. I published a piece on this issue, specifically on social media, for CapX.
The modern-day internet has provided us with the solution for large data transfers, it has replaced our TV with large online video platforms, and it has created millions and millions of opportunities for entrepreneurs to make their dreams come true. And yeah, a few people say mean words on Twitter.
Pick your battles.
This article was first published by Freedom Today.
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