I’m going to write in the first person here. I know that’s taboo from an academic and essay-style perspective which scowls at subjectivity, but we all know where that mindset has gotten us. It has taken us here: to a place where the blurred distinctions between truth and opinions have produced hatred, violence, and, ironically, strict divisions in belief systems. No one wants to allow the concrete a bit of fluidity, or distinctions a bit of porousness. Right and wrong, good and bad, true and false; all utterly arbitrarily constructed definitions produced under the guise of security and order. A binary-defined reality which turns its head from those who are injured by another’s safety.
But, that’s enough philosophy and five-dollar words for now. I’m starting to sound like a first-year undergrad. The blurb above is of particular interest to me and will influence much of the writing that appears in this blog. With this page, I want to explore and argue that the internet is the first line-of-defense against a narrow-minded point of view. Especially in social media and similar web-based platforms, the ability for people to voice opinions and perspectives that are different from popular ones changes the way that we see and understand our world. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and all other platforms ignore race, class, gender, and age distinctions which may otherwise effect the reception of people’s words. Through the internet, the world becomes the world’s audience. There is no authority talking-down to us or telling someone to shut up. Everyone has a voice, everyone is heard.
Unfortunately, this is only ideal. In real life (or, as real as the internet can get, which is pretty close these days), “everyone” doesn’t include those without access to computers or the internet, people who can’t read or write, or those who simply can’t understand how it all works (my Grandparents would check the last box). In real life, our words are moderated and controlled by the websites we use as our soapbox, censored as soon as any post doesn’t meet the “Terms and Conditions” we all blindly scroll past to quickly click “I accept.” You’ve all done it, don’t lie. And I can’t blame the websites for that! Most of the time such posts are censored to prevent harm, emotional or physical. Words have power and in an environment when almost any word can be said and used to whatever end, website moderators want to stop the bad ones and promote the good ones. This distinction has problems of its own. So, as much as we hope for the internet to be the safe haven for people with like and different opinions, it, like seemingly everything else in life, is complicated. Class rears its ugly head into nearly every part of our lives and the seemingly invisible world wide web is no different.
To jump back quickly to those “Terms and Conditions” for a moment (because they make me so anxious and angry), have you ever tried to read one? Even if you could force yourself through the 17,000 pages of content, you can’t understand what they’re saying! It seems like they’re purposely written and designed to keep the reader in the dark. If you can’t understand all of the technical jargon or, in most cases, refuse to read it, the rules can be easier imposed upon you, and you are more likely to break them. That’s how I feel, anyway. But, that’s just my little conspiracy theory.
This introduction is getting a bit long and I know how internet users love short and easily digestible content, so I’ll finish up. I want to avoid the identity of the “guy who writes about the internet but doesn’t really get it” guy. Whether that’s avoidable or not, I guess I’ll soon find out. By the way, that isn’t a slight against quickly-consumable posts: if anything, the genius that goes into digital marketing campaigns that perfectly speak to the fast-pace and short-attention spans of the internet user blows my mind. Brevity is something I’ve always had trouble with, but will work on in future posts. To end, this is what I am interested in. I want to know what goes into writing on the internet and how it effects the way that we understand things. The effects which digital marketing campaigns and certain styles of writing have on a reader and consumer of media are important to our understanding of ourselves and the way our world is/works. In future posts, I’m going to explore these and many other related issues. Approving and opposing opinions are welcomed, as I am working through these ideas as much as anyone else. The internet is a constantly evolving and unfinished project, and our understandings of it must reflect that.