A surfing leviathan

The Internet: a virtual wild west of our own creation.

Since its ‘invention’ by Sir Tim Berners-Lee our lives have been captured, transfixed and enslaved by a leviathan which straddles the globe. It’s power is unprecedented; dictators have been toppled by a Twitter frenzy, and millions raised for worthy causes.

We have unleashed a monster we can’t control- an ungovernable land to which our lives are being increasingly drawn. We buy food and necessities online, we talk to friends half-way around the globe and cut our wrists in honour of a glorified school boy from Canada.

We can argue all day whether the Internet has a democratic effect, but we can agree that it serves to break down barriers, laws, rules. Now for the moment, those barriers are displeasing to our liberal sensitivities: corrupt and unfair laws of brutal regimes.

But are we really so naive to think that its destructive attention won’t be turned on laws generated by a democratically elected parliament? Is it really so unlikely a scenario that in a country burdened by political apathy and a distaste for the career machinations of a corrupt political class, that the Internet couldn’t be a catalyst for mob rule?

The Internet is a vehicle for corporate dominance of our lives; never have companies extended their reach so far into our very existence, and with each day we inch closer to a Charlie Brooker dystopia.

21st century wiz-kids like Jimmy Wales point to the Poundland-education offered by websites like Wikipedia, but in reality it takes real skill to extract information from the online storm. News comes faster, it’s true. Reaction to the news comes quicker also; knee jerk reactions are the order of the day.

Information is no longer controlled by governments, but we’d be fools not to believe it’s controlled by someone. We think governments are the fiends of society, but in most cases they protect us from much worse people. The 21st century philosophy rejects conventional authority, but replaces it with much more sinister, corporate power.

The Internet is essentially evil, but there’s no turning the clock back now. We have to live with our mistakes. The Internet needs strong governance to make it safe to use, but not by any national government. Something stronger than that, with more of a global mandate. The UN springs to mind (at last something for them to do).

Of course I’m aware of my dreadful hypocrisy in writing this via the World Wide Web, but what’s the alternative? These thoughts would be caged until a newspaper saw fit to hire me: and ask yourself, would this be such a bad thing?

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5 thoughts on “A surfing leviathan

  1. Alex Jones April 12, 2014 / 11:06 am

    Better to take internet out of hands of humans and given to the authority of AI, those that have no emotive or moral distractions.

    • MarxistMax April 13, 2014 / 9:38 am

      Maybe. But that AI would be cloaked with immense power, and if it should fall into the wrong hands….then we’d be stumbling into the start of Terminator.

      • Alex Jones April 13, 2014 / 12:57 pm

        We are already moving into a terminator situation with humanity.

  2. Christine Gray April 12, 2014 / 6:37 pm

    An interesting read Max. They thought the same about the printed word when the printing press was invented. It was less dangerous because few could read then but it did help the spread of ideas and dissent. Just as people have to be educated not to believe all they read, they now have to be educated not to believe all that is spread on the web. Alan November is a great exponent of this. At the end of the day it is all about freedom of speech. Do we want it or not? As you say there is no turning back. We are all King Canutes watching the tide roll in.

    • MarxistMax April 13, 2014 / 9:44 am

      That’s very well put. I agree that freedom of speech is essential, but we need to take a closer look at what we mean by “free”.

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