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Lauren Crilly believes the creation of the internet had the potential to transform societies for the better, but in reality it has not all been positive.
I grew up on the internet. For me, it was always a beautiful place which I found to be mystifying and intriguing. It helped me figure out a lot: who I thought I was, who I actually was and who I aspired to be.
It educated me in film, music and art, as well as the intricate history of the Kardashians. Through the internet I learnt about the things that I felt too awkward to discuss with my real life peers, such as sex, health and how to correctly spell February. I loved the honesty and truth behind what people were doing online but I guess, like everything cool, it has been ruined by arseholes.
When Tim Berners-Lee launched the World Wide Web in 1993 the possibilities seemed endless. There was a myth that the internet would bring about sweeping social transformations. It was a brilliant and unique social tool that was going to connect people all over the world in ways our tiny pre-internet brains could never have imagined.
The internet had plans to high kick injustice in its stupid face, start a cultural renaissance and allow a magical rainbow stream of valuable information flow into our minds and bodies.
This didn’t exactly work out and, to use its own lingo against it, the internet has become its very own epic fail. It is now dominated by the wealthiest one percent and corporations who want to crush your soul and drink the sweet blood of your first born child.
Google doesn’t want to help you; Google is not your friend. It may seem like an ally, because it corrects your spelling at 4am when you’re drunkenly Google searching Beyoncé, but it is just using you for its own personal gain.
One example of the corporation’s creepy behaviour is the phenomenon known as the filter bubble. This occurs when Google Search uses an algorithm to suggest personalised results for you, by presuming what you would like to see based on information that the website has previously gathered about you. In real life this would be the equivalent of a rude and annoying person ordering your food at a restaurant because they have eaten here a thousand times and know what’s good!
When using Google Search, we only receive information that its computers believe is within our cultural sphere and zone of understanding. It doesn’t provide us with new knowledge, only information that will reinforce our own points of view. This technique of personalised suggestions is used by most big websites, including Facebook, Yahoo and Amazon. Essentially, the filter bubble means we are all workers in the data factories of Facebook and Twitter, instead of actual human beings who are trying to interact.
This can also mean that big bu$ine$$e$ are selling us shit that we do not need. Advertisers can follow our every click and the internet is becoming more and more commercially controlled. At its inception, the internet had plans to redistribute power and wealth, but instead, it has super sized those who were already dominant. The fact is that something which was once seen as a punk technology is now a vessel for marketers to sell their products.
Our creative sectors are not thriving in the Internet Age. Although we now have access to readily available art and music through social media and blogs, online piracy and the free content driven media have made it more difficult to make a living from art without giving into online insurance adverts. The dream was a cultural renaissance but it seems that any unique and creative sub-culture is quickly bastardised by the mainstream media.
Because I have lived most of my life with the Internet, I do not look at it with childlike wonder. I am critical like a true friend would be of a bad outfit choice, because I know they have a cuter dress in their wardrobe. I am not looking upon the internet as a single entity that needs to take responsibility for its actions. I am just writing about the stuff that bothers me personally. The internet is no utopia and it does not have all the answers we are looking for (except maybe to table quizzes). There is no doubt that it is an amazing tool and it has transformed the world irreversibly, but it has not been all positive and we should remember that.
Photos by Geralt, Silvio Tanaka, Saad Faruque.