The Problems of the Internet

Jim Geraghty links to a pretty good bit on how the Internet is making it a lot easier for crazies to find each other, and how it’s probably responsible for the emergence of the new crazy in our political discourse:

Enter the Internet. The good news is, if you really want to talk about obscure bits of history, or political issues, or sports, or pop culture, chances are, there’s some online community for you. Of course, this applies to every interest, including the bad ones — hate groups, child pornographers, extremists of every stripe.

I don’t think there’s a good way to deal with this. Public social pressure doesn’t seem to work effectively on Internet communities, because enough of them find each other they feel comfortable in lashing back at the people criticizing them. In fact, there’s probably a great deal of feeling like persecuted outsiders that probably strengthens resolve among the adherents to whatever weirdness you want to speak of.

Humans are tribal my nature, and if your a member of the crazy tribe, the Internet has allowed you to find the rest of your tribesmen.

9 thoughts on “The Problems of the Internet”

  1. And who determines exactly who is a crazy? You know, a good portion of the American public considers these gun blogs and forums to be packed full of crazies.

    I don’t think it’s a problem at all. Everybody should be able to communicate without the fear or chilling effects of social pressure, etc…

    The benefits far outweigh the problems. Do you really believe that the AWB would have expired without groups of “crazies” from the internet to help it along?

    1. If you had read Geraghty’s piece, specifically the link to the problem of being SWATted, you would understand that the concern isn’t the chilling effects of social pressure, but something far more dangerous.

      1. I *DID* read both the article AND the link. It seems to me to be an effort to soften public opinion toward a less anonymous, more heavily regulated internet. “for the children”, “to stop piracy”, and now…. “to protect our prosecutors”.

        BTW, although there were less crazies before the internet, false 911 reports predate the internet by a long shot.

  2. I think that it’s a feature rather than a bug. Let’s get the crazies out in the open where we can ID them. Plus, they are a form of entertainment.

    1. Kinda link hangin a bug zapper out in the yard … go over yonder an check it out. It’s *totally* safe. I super secret swear promise on a stack of bibles.

  3. I think there’s another reason why it’s a feature, and not a bug: there’s all sorts of types of craziness, and most of it is harmless. I’m interested in esoteric computer languages like Common Lisp and Forth–to want to pursue these things, perhaps even try to pursue a career using these things, could be considered “crazy talk”…yet, great things can potentially happen because of this craziness.

  4. Sadly, it’s turned “normal people” not just off of politics, but off anyone who voices a political opinion. You have to use very slow and roundabout ways to introduce people to new ideas these days, or their minds go into total lock-down.
    I can’t criticize them for their defense mechanism: ranting crazy people are disproportionately vocal on the internet.

    You added a spell chick plugin, huh? Hinting you’re commentators cant spell? Challenge excepted.

    1. Paradoxically, though, you also need the crazies, who are willing to entertain oddball ideas, because sometimes those oddball ideas are the best. This means that if you’re an oddball so-called anarcho-capitalist like me, you have to figure out how to convince people to adopt so-called anarcho-capitalist strategies in day-to-day life, and then explain how such things ought to be adopted by government.

      Of course, you’d be hard-pressed to find a libertarian willing to push such a strategy–it seems that the Libertarian Party focuses on “win big or don’t play at all”–as can be seen by how they seem to primarily focus on the Presidency, secondarily on the House and Senate, ternarily (probably not even a word…) on Governors and State Legislatures, and barely even a presense, if existing at all, on the county and city level. If Libertarian Party people had any sense, they’d turn around and focus on the local level first, and then bubble up to the national level!

      And if I had any sense, I’d finally get off my duff and go to a State Libertarian Convention, and ask everyone, “Where are your caucus meetings? Where are your mayor and commissioner and city council candidates? Where are your grassroots advocates for those crushed by city, state and federal regulations?”

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