I see it every day. People connected to digital media, in a relationship of command where our control seems to slip slowly away. Are we still in charge of the Internet anyway? This incomprehensible medium has distorted the perception of our lives, has corrupted our senses and turned us into useless puppets. As a child of capitalism it taught us that there are no idle times, no queues, no “sold out”. We went back to our infantile roots expressing “We want everything, NOW!” Our consumerist society just might have reached its pinnacle with its ad-overflowing websites and gruelling spam mails. Everyday we log in, we are confronted with new, endless offers, one more annoying than the other: information we do not want to know, products we do not want to buy, services we do not want to use. The Internet got tons of everything but with great power comes great responsibility and not many are endowed with such an ability. The speed of information nowadays is immense; its wide-spreading effects are even bigger. Platforms like WikiLeaks can supply every user with secret, political documents, anonymously, unfiltered; as can forums and blogs e.g. with manuals for bombs or illegal acts. The latter remains a deed without consequences because the Internet is still in a puberty-like state with legal situations differing from country to country, successively opening the floodgates to organised crime and terrorism. Messages of the Al Qaeda are spread throughout the Internet, peer-to-peer networks like Kazaa and Limewire serve as helpers for breaking copyright laws. A glaring counterexample would be countries like China which try to regulate, suppress and control through its firewall conditions and its censorship. Certainly this is the wrong way to educate people on using the Internet (whether it is their goal or not).
Interactivity is also a big issue. Everybody has something to say on the Internet. Of course they want to share their opinion with everybody else, whilst at the same time hardly ever accept or even listen to other point of views. The culture of conflict management, the art of eristic, has been replaced by the excessive use of capital letters (“caps”) and deliberate misbehaviour (“trolling”). Too many people think that they are the centre of the universe, yet their lives are boring and meaningless. Thanks to the great invention of Twitter even they can feel important. Everybody can have their own followers, post outpours of brilliance (“I’m twittering right now!!!”) and read others’ pieces of poetry (“OH MY GOD he’s reading my tweets!!!!”). This just might be the progressing cultural dissolution started by the globalization and technologization. It seems that we lost our sense of shame, when we talk about our most private things and feed social networks with precious information about us. Is it because we think that somehow through the magical cloak of anonymity, through the replacement of our self with an avatar, we are protected from attacks on our privacy? This cannot be true since on log in we dispense it at the counter. We consign almost every bit of our identity to shady companies for “purposes of market research”, only to get individualized ads and even more spam. Lately the government discovered this beautiful scheme of exploitation. Different countries have developed strategies to infiltrate computers and cut our personal freedom. The infamous “Three Strikes Law” in France will scissor your Internet connection for one year, if you break the copyright law, the German institution GEZ will hunt you down by using your nickname in their forum. While Google Street View shows the whole world where and how you live, Facebook collects you data like a kraken, I guess they just want to be friends. One problem is that they can misuse sensible, private info; yet another one is that these crawlers have not found the right way to protect it. It is exposed to outer risks of hackers or simple data loss. Today lots of data is stored only on web servers where with a couple of clicks access, alteration and deletion is possible.
Through the relocation of our lives from the sphere of real society, the dependence on the Internet constantly grows. How did we get the news before again? Papers die every day and are reborn in acardiac creatures called “E-Books”. Mainstream media forgot how to cover stories without using unreliable, inaccurate sources. Facebook and Twitter have replaced journalistic research. Even human communication is endangered. We lost the ability to write handwritten mails, to have a conversation without using abbreviations like “lol”, to use the telephone if you want to meet with someone. The list could go on like this forever. It seems that while we are driving on this road of technological progress, we are losing valuable cargo. Actually we are not losing it; we are throwing it on the road by ourselves.
This cultural cannibalism surely is not a regional phenomenon. Approximately a third of the world population are using the Internet thus there are only a few left who are not inflicted with this man-made disease. Will there ever be an antidote? It is hardly imaginable that the power of the Internet is going to shrink, more likely it will consume more space, more influence and more of our identity. We will surf into delirium and feed our addiction for new commodities, new ways of self-destruction. We will go deep into the abyss and what is going to be left is no more than a pitiful, empty shell of what was called human before. The future will enslave us in its false promises, its cosy Garden of Eden but the result will be the same, the Fall of Man 2.0.