In the technology space, there’s something called the Internet of Things or IoT. Think of all the gadgets in a smart home connected to the Internet feeding live data back to you.
If your refrigerator breaks down, instead of coming home to find spoiled milk and melted ice cream, a smart fridge will send you real-time notifications to your cell phone, letting you know to come home and save your food.
This technology has been scaled beyond home gadgets, all the way to pipelines deep on the ocean floor connected to remote sensing equipment in sub-zero Siberia. The point I’m trying to make is that because of the Internet, machines have gotten smarter.
In contrast, it appears that because of the Internet humanity, by and large, has become dumber. The Internet is a landmine of free speech, fueled by opions decoupled from historical context and diligent fact checks.
As a result, people who otherwise appear intelligent in the real world, often post their dumbest thoughts on the web behind a veil of anonymity because they can. Some do it out of ignorance, others just for kicks and a few do it with more malicious intent.
The result is a rancid stew of misinformation that drowns out factual content and discourages open dialogue between the saner amongst us.
In the real world, you can’t just go around spewing nonsense because someone will check you in real-time and will potentially hold it against you. But in the digital realm, that same person operating under an anonymous avatar can say anything they want and get enough naive people to follow them to the point where their rhetoric becomes a ‘thing.’
Case in point, Flat Earthers…
People’s emotions towards an idea or a person have become more important than the actual facts. In traumatic situations, most people’s emotions will surface first before their rational mind prevails. The problem this has created is that the Internet has become a reflection of our unfiltered emotions and angst towards everything and everyone.
By the time we even get to distilling fact from fiction, the damage has already been done and the mob has moved on elsewhere. Granted we live in a time where facts can be fluid to some degree, but by definition, a fact is a fact.
I’m going to assume I don’t need to share examples of the buffoonery found on the internet disguised as intelligent commentary with you. You don’t need a reminder that a person’s real-world IQ vs online IQ are two totally different numbers for better or worse.
What I’m trying to outline is that we did everything right by giving everyone a voice because that matters. Too long have people lived without the tools to be heard, a prerequisite needed to recruit allies that will help their cause. Some of the world’s worst atrocities have been carried out against the voiceless.
Where we have failed as a civilization is in the education of our citizens. I remember growing up thinking Christopher Columbus discovered America. It was taught to me with such conviction that I believed it to be true. Today, that sort of revisionist history can’t pass as education.
Unfortunately, the people raised on that low level of education and their offspring who haven’t done the requisite reeducation of themselves; are now some of the loudest voices in America as a result of online soapboxes.
They’ve banded together with their limited contextual knowledge not just of American history, but human history and through that broken mosaic of a lens are trying to solve or influence the most pressing issues of our time.
The consequence is what I call the Internet of Buffoonery. Like the IoT I mentioned earlier, machines that were once unconnected, are now smarter because they can communicate with one another, optimizing their performance.
However, humans who were once unconnected to each other, are now connected to each other and somehow the net result has been less than the sum of its parts.
I’ve always believed that to really measure a persons character, give them power and anonymity; what they do then will reveal who they really are. The web is a prime example of this. Humanity is so beautiful when its held accountable to each of its members.
But when you look deeper into the darker and more hidden niches within humanity, then you can see what humans are truly capable of and why inter-accountability is so important for our collective health.
My hope is that we as a society who are pretty much digital primitives will evolve over time and learn to use our social connectedness in a way that will elevate human consciousness. After-all, the World Wide Web is only 25 years old.
The average age of Americans is about 39 years old, which means the bulk of America lived during a time when we were taught Christopher Columbus was essentially a saint who discovered America.
Because the people responsible for that sort of mental programming didn’t predict the accountability the Internet would create, the whole house of cards is on the precipice of crumbling.
It’s very possible that the whole of society will need to burn completely down in order for a new world order to surface. Not in the vision of global elites, but in the image of the citizens who make up our beautiful country.