The Internet is right about a lot of things. They are right about not forgetting the atrocious things some people do, but they are wrong to bring it up to people who committed an honest mistake. They are right about debating some people healthy about their viewpoints, but they are wrong about pushing their ideas like it’s the only one that matter. They are right in pointing consumers in the right direction, but they are wrong about dismissing other people’s choices.
They are wrong about a lot of things too, isn’t it? Well, they are. Probablly the most famous mistake of the Internet was BoatyMcBoatface. Everyone enjoyed it, but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. It’s the most accurate example of letting the Internet decide, and their decision completely backfiring or unsuitable to the purpose, despite the collective intelligence of everyone involved.
Can’t Lift, Won’t Lift the Veil
Anonymity is the most powerful tool in the Internet, and it’s available to everyone. If you think it’s harmless, you should tune in to malware attack news feed. Anonymity harms everyone, and though it’s not really that harmful, BoatyMcBoatface showed you what happens when you let a thousand anonymous people decide without any consequence.
So why not take it seriously? The name of the boat ended up being the RRS David Attenborough, which netizens could’ve easily named the boat. Because those who voted for McBoatface, don’t really want to take things seriously because they have the veil of the Internet. Everyone’s aware of “finstagrams” (fake Instagram accounts) and other fake profiles used to interact with posts and people with impunity. BoatyMcBoatface was all in good fun, but what if voting was used for a more important purpose? Will people take it seriously or they’re just going to opt for the sensational choice?
If you want a concrete example, look at basketball superstar Kevin Durant. He’s the prime example why nobody is exempt from creating your own alternate account for anonymity’s sake. It’s like having unlimited power. As long as you have alternative anonymous profiles, you always have a platform to troll. As such, taking away BoatyMcBoatface was the best decision, no matter how anyone feels about it. Better to give it a name that fits the bill.
No Middle Ground
Anonymous trolls ruin the Internet for most people, but then when everyone is against taking anonymity away, what do you do? Are we just going to drown in trolls? Is this the beginning of an Internet that’s just plainly toxic?
All signs are actually pointing there. It’s easy to not hold anybody accountable because nothing is at stake. While we really don’t need a point-based society because that’s just going down the Black Mirror road. But we really can’t continue not taking the Internet seriously. It’s already close to being vital to living, so is anonymity really the solution moving forward? Hasn’t it given birth to people expressing hate and racism? If you still don’t see it, I suggest a bit more attention to current events.
It’s hard to feel good, or even bad, about all these things when I enjoy a little anonymity myself. But when someone proposes that there should be an account for everybody, for tracking purposes, I’m one among those who express disgust. Anonymity is a building block of the Internet, but it’s always been there. We don’t know how it feels like to act like how we are online. We’re afraid of trolls, but also because there’s more about expressing your primal reactions about things, something many of us don’t get to do in our real life.
It’s really a mess, with no solution in sight.
Has the Internet’s Support Ever Gone Right?
To say that only bad things have come from the Internet is to have a really bad case of tunnel vision. The very existence of free online education platforms undo a lot of the bad things in the Internet, and it’s not alone in its mission to spread some good online.
Remember when the TV show Brooklyn Nine Nine got canceled, and its fans gathered to express their discontent for its cancelation and their love for it? Amazon heard them, just because they were outraged and was playfully calling for other networks to pick up the show, and put it in their show lineup. That’s the collective spirit we all want to see in our online communities, not just adults playing like children and not taking anything seriously. As one of my favorite shows, it was one of the few times I expressed anything to people in the Internet. It pays to be choosy sometimes, you know?
But the best of the Internet is in Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These two platforms show that capitalism doesn’t always win, and that every person can choose to support an inventor or anyone with an idea that isn’t attached to a corporation. There are so many things that have come from those two platforms that are hard to find in big box shops. Not because nobody bothered to make them, which is a part of it, but because why would corporations that aim to please the public listen to a couple thousand of people who wants their specific needs to be addressed? Inventions available in both sites aren’t always useful, but having the freedom to support independent causes is a good option to have in this world of ours that’s slowly being controlled by a handful of conglomerates.
The Internet is ubiquitous and, I cannot stress this enough, unique in human history. There’s no precedent to an international platform that takes many shapes. Maybe all these ugliness signifies that we’re still polishing the rougher edges of this specific tool and of ourselves. Maybe we’ll get it right soon enough, so that we can use the Internet for better purposes.
For now, let’s just stay away from the trolls and watch cat videos. Cats never lie, cats are always nice, unlike the Internet.