How we screwed up the internet and how future generations will fix it
“Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ... . ” — From the First Amendment to Constitution
I’ve been thinking a lot about the internet recently. On one hand, it can be a wonderful source of information where anyone can find the answers to just about anything.
You want to know how to build a lovely shelf? Watch this Youtube tutorial!
You want figure out how to make that dish that your significant other likes? Again, Youtube! How about learning facts about World War II or some other historical event? There’s plenty of sites for that!
On the other hand, though, the internet can also be a cesspool of misinformation and terrible people who are trying to manipulate the world itself. It’s usually the politicians who use it for their own evil means ... well, them and Russia, of course.
The problem is that my generation (the proto-millennials or Xennials, if you will) has had to learn how to traverse this massive frontier called cyberspace mostly by trial and error. We were the ones who received such things like social media and Youtube and we are the ones who continue to screw things up.
We also like looking up a lot of free porn.
Yes, we were given a digital Wild West to explore without almost any restrictions and we’ve done some naughty things with it. On the flip side of all of that, though, there is the next generation (the true Millennials). They have grown up their whole lives with computers and some form of the internet.
This generation gives me hope because they are already better than us at pointing out the BS that is promoted online. They’re also getting away from social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, two platforms known for displaying and not dealing with mass amounts of misinformation and data mining.
Even my nephew, who will be graduating high school soon, has already deleted his Facebook account and I couldn’t be prouder as I continue to rant on my own profile.
Now, I’m not completely condemning my generation for screwing up the internet. As I said before, we were the ones who had to take the first steps in exploring this new frontier and with every new frontier, you hit a few roadblocks along the way.
But again, we were the ones who used it to promote our own agendas, spread misinformation and we also shared way too many photos of the food we ordered that one time we went to the fancy restaurant.
So, while I come with some bad news about how the internet was gifted to us and we helped screw it all up, I ultimately write this as a message of hope. We had to help our parents reprogram their VCRS every time the power went out so it would stop blinking 12:00 all the time.
The next generation will help us reprogram how we think of the internet and hopefully teach us how to discern what is real information and what is simply someone with a devious agenda.
With everything from terribly bigoted comments to elections that have been proven to be meddled with by foreign powers, we can’t just say that we’re going to be better with this information powerhouse that we now hold ... we need to do better. Our very freedom depends on it.
J.T. Johnson is a guest columnist for The Saline Courier. His opinions are his own and do not represent this publication or its employees in any way.