Why Internet makes the world look more violent and crappy than it really is?

I remember days when I just began with computers. I did not have a computer and used to go to cyber cafes to eat my share of internet connectivity. 8 computers running on one single 56KbPS connection. Yes, I have lived that. But the world did not appear to me as it does now. Back in 2004, almost a decade ago, mobiles were just waking up in the market. People would struggle to find mobile network signals and internet was having its first cry after birth. There was no Facebook and Orkut was yet to come to lime-light. Mobile phone call rates were high and ‘incoming’ calls had just become free. SMS rates were too high for most and everyone preferred to go to the nearest booth to call their loved ones. The world was large and people enjoyed evenings with each other cracking jokes or playing card games or having a walk around.

Fast forward today – there are people who live only to update their Facebook status. Internet is more promising than ever. Everything is getting online and you cannot hide from mobile signal radiation. There are some who own a Facebook page and have sworn to the name of God that they will post at least 10 pictures every hour. While experiences differ from one network to another and Google+ feels better than Facebook for now but that is perhaps only because there aren’t as many people there as there are on the ‘all-blue-blue’ site. Sharing content has become easier. Actually there was a time when I thought content was text (you know, the Table of Content at the beginning of a book) and now that word represents anything that you can see or listen to – music, videos, games, news and of course text.

It is a Saturday evening. I am not busy and have a box of sweets next to me, a melody playing on my laptop at a low volume, a little chit-chat from people around, noise of some stupid news on the TV which I am sure will make no difference in the end. A déjà-vu happens and I am suddenly feeling like I am taken back to my childhood. I am on the roof of the school hostel where I lived and there are friends talking about the hottest chick in their classes and I am looking at the sunset. But God never promised us everlasting heavens. I come back to normal in about a minute and there is one thing I can see – the world feels crappier than it looked back then. Every TV channel is filled with nonsense and I am eating (consuming) more ‘content’ than food and the innate inquisitiveness of my species dawns upon and up pops a “why”?

The reason internet (okay, technically it’s ‘web’ but let us settle down to a more layman level) makes the world look crappier is because you are subjected to everything by everything without a filter. Each one of us has opinions and perceptions and there are some people who want to show you all the filth in the world. Facebook says that they personalize your experience but when I look around at my friends’ Facebook news feeds in office and otherwise, they all appear like my very own – filled with downright crap. A company selling shoes, a picture of a religious entity demanding likes, a page admin trying to make you laugh with a double-meaning status, people praising the love of parents and begging you to share if you love your parents and what not. Add to that the fact that Facebook wants me to buy bras (those twitchy advertisements on the right side, that’s what I am talking about). Now, I have my faiths and doubts, likes and dislikes but a ‘bra’? I mean seriously – that is the cherry at the top of the icing on the cake. I have no breasts and I have no one to gift a ‘bra’ to. Why show me the adverts then? But we have come to a world where internet is an asset and ‘control’ is a misspelled word at the best. All these companies saying they have given you options to control what you share and so on and so on – that’s a lie. It is true for all of them. I am not being hateful to any one in particular. They all lack the power to help you control things they help you at – sharing.

Let us again come back to ‘people’ and the ‘information’ that gets shoved into the conscious mind of ours. When you are online, all the 'you are this' and 'you are that' and 'this should happen' and 'this is wrong' comes to you directly, without bias and in many/most cases you cannot control it. When I sit back and watch - it is so evident - people who love to be called as 'thought provoking' and 'rebels' do not get heard in the real world; so they come out on Facebook/Twitter/Google+ and tell the entire world how great their thinking is and why they are right. Since ‘being wronged’ has been so well associated in the past with ‘being rebel’. Those people who share crap get a lot of heat and I am sure (from my experience with a few fellows whom I cannot name for obvious reasons) that they feel pride because “when you are being shouted upon, that means you are right”. They do not stop and slowly the conscience adapts to that and we ignore it on a psychological level. But in a world ruled by wires and routers and under-developed AI algorithms, you cannot really ignore things – you unlike a page or unfollow a person to avoid useless information and there a person on your contact list shares just what you did not want. You come to a fix – you cannot block the person and there is no way to block the content coming through them – there are approximations and no algorithm is that perfect to get the task done for you, not one that I have encountered, at the least!

When we talk to each other in schools, offices, bus-stands, coffee shops, a social gathering, anywhere, to the closest friend or to a complete stranger – we know what to speak and where to end it. It is from that contraction in the muscles around biological optical device we get to know where to draw the line. That is not true for Facebook – you might be sitting under a palm tree near a beach enjoying sunset and the person producing that ‘information’ might be boxed in a coffin with his mobile phone. Online, it does not matter who is where – you do not see each other and that level of unawareness only escalates to ‘anonymity’ after a certain degree of ‘resharing’ (think about it).

It all boils down to one thing – control. You do not have that thing on today’s social networks. Maybe someday you will have, when image recognition technology will be as profound and intelligent as we humans possess but that is a long path to travel for sure. Right now, you are subjected wildly to all sorts of nonsense and even if there is one person in your friend-list who thinks some crap is worth being shared then the person acts as a hole in your sense of control and since for most type of information there will always be someone who might think that it is worth being shared, you are at a loss. I cannot suggest that you remove those people because they might not get entirely wrong because of sharing that one post.

From a second perspective, the internet centralizes those who can spread negativity. Let us take up a sensitive topic – such as terrorism. If and when you start discussing such topics, many other sensitive topics such as politics, history, religion and traditions (and what not) get involved in the discussion. Ideally if you start talking on terrorism in public gatherings or while travelling, chances are you can spark off discussions intense enough to cause violence. Internet serves as the messiah for all those voices which get suppressed in the real life. And the way world is designed, all actions cause reactions and that creates a vicious cycle of flame wars until someone shuts up or cyber law enforcements raise an eyebrow. Normally the discussions do not get too far on the internet – someone comes in before the cyber police but each time that happens, the damage is already done, someone is already angry and he/she is going to take that rage out, once again, some place on the internet.

Those are the reasons, in my humble opinion why Internet makes the world appear more chaotic than it actually is. When you come out in the real world, go to office or school and talk with people in real – those things become obsolete because then you are dealing with people; people who know that you do not like to talk about wrestling and would rather want to learn about music. They would not talk about other people you do not like and so on.

It is a humble note from a total stranger – no, the world is not all chaotic. The morning breeze still crackles dry leaves and there are more people like you who want to help each other than those who want to kill each other. There are thousands of people per corrupt politician and the world is not hopeless. If you spend all your time in front of a computer reading the so called ‘feed’ or ‘stream’ which makes you think that the world is falling apart and Mars is closest to what can be safe, please come out of your room, talk to people and you will come to know that the number of colours is not limited to 16 million and not everything worth watching needs to be ‘backlit’. The world is sweet. Yes, it can be better but that does not mean it is not good right now.