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The internet as a failed utopia?

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posted on Aug, 20 2015 @ 10:27 AM
Hello ATS!

I have recently been watching and reading about the subject matter I wish to discuss with you here. The question of "Is the internet a failed utopia"?

I would like to give my personal opinion first, as I think that's the polite way to do this, then I will add links and hopefully (if it works) a moderately short video including the topic of this thread, which will hopefully broaden your responses to more than just "yes" or "no".

My experience with the internet over the years has been a love/hate relationship. Recently though it's leaning towards hate/hate relationship as we see the ever burgeoning rise of social media and corporate takeovers of previously small scale websites. I used to log on to my computer and eagerly anticipate the dial-tone that would enable me to browse vast swathes of human experience and cumulative information stored on servers at my disposal, now I just log on and I'm already there, on the 'web' as we say, automatically, without me even being aware of it.

I would often use search engines Google, Yahoo, AOL, Ask Jeeves and others - now you'd be forgiven if you thought Google was our only choice - how handy then that it stores browsing habits for narrower search results. I would often log on and eagerly read emails I had sent to friends, awaiting their replies with the smiley face jifs. Now I open my e-mail to companies I've never heard of spamming me continuously with 'free money' as long as I send them a postage stamp for only £89.99. I would often use Google search to try and find obscure sources for information and websites to do with my personal beliefs at the time - now it's all narrowed down into popular results and 'noteworthy' contributors.

We once heard the internet was going to be the ultimate in liberating technology, and that it was going to give every man/woman and child in the world access to the same information and resources. Instead what we're seeing is a few massive on-line corporations trying to corner a market and buy-out any competition (Google anyone). Companies obsessed with their users habits and becoming ever more fixated on the minutia of their users everyday lives. We're seeing companies like Facebook and twitter allow people to make a mockery of privacy and dignity. Never have so many people had so much to say about so little. We see the NSA and it's software (sometimes inbuilt into the technology itself) tracking and monitoring people's activities like a true to life inspector Holmes. It's starting to feel like the 'real world' all over again.

The utopia was supposed to offer us an escape, and instead it's turning into the best prison. The 'idea machine' it once was is slowly being crippled through claims of copyright and corporate ownership. We see countries like China have their own version of the internet, only it's not the internet. The same in Korea and elsewhere, suddenly our 'freedom' isn't so broad. We see, almost monthly, people being 'caught' by the authorities because they made a post that was being 'watched'.

The utopians claimed that the internet would bring out humanities best qualities, especially under the guise of anonymity because people were now free to be as wonderful and as 'over-the-top' nice as they wanted to be. Instead people chose to be cynical and morose. The internet fast became one of, if not the most, depraved examples of human anonymity - people often times goading people to commit suicide and bullying them facelessly. The obsessive need for attention that permeated their lives before the internet became magnified with a greater, more gullible audience. The internet now has sites dedicated to cyber bullying training (4chan) and other such outlets.

The internet offered us a chance, a chance to shine through anonymity. We had a chance to create a brilliantly open, hate free space - a space were differences didn't matter because we are all essentially equal on-line (the true utopia) where ideas would flow freely and where businesses could easily thrive. Instead we've turned the internet into an alternate version of our now imploding reality. A technocratic prison, an 'eye on the world' for corporate interests seeking to exploit the naive. We've used this free space to cram in as much narcissistic, self aggrandizing material we could just so we can feel 'liked' and as though we made a difference. We 'liked' help pages on Facebook thinking we were helping orphans in Africa. We donated 10 minutes to watch a video to feed a child in Ethiopia. We, essentially did nothing.... and the internet became a DYSTOPIA.

There is, of course good on the internet, businesses did thrive, people did share and communities did arise. However in light of the more recent internet developments (especially AI) we're taking it too far. My opinion is that no, the internet is not a utopia. It could have been, But it's not.

Here's the video on the debate I promised.

And here's some further reading.

I look forward to hearing your opinions on this. Do you think the internet is a failed utopia?

posted on Aug, 20 2015 @ 10:44 AM
a reply to: Joneselius

Yeah, but think of all the good stuff:

Research, free music from all over the world, free poetry from all over the world, every bit of info known to humanity just about.

It is still a free platform. People can still be creative with it.

For me it was always going to be a glorified interactive world teletext service. It operates in two dimensions with text and graphics. I have no higher expectation of it than that.

I don't mind the commercialism. That is part of its function in the realms of business and finance. It is just a highway for info, commercial and non commercial.

edit on 20-8-2015 by Revolution9 because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 20 2015 @ 11:07 AM
It isn't a utopia.

Very well written topic, by the way, and interesting. And honestly, you covered it so well, I can add little that you didn't.

I would place the blame less on mega corp takeovers though, and more on a sick and twisted culture(fostered and amplified, ironically, by the very internet itself.) In my view, the user base is more to blame than any corporate monopolizing.


posted on Aug, 20 2015 @ 11:18 AM
The internet is a relective mirror of the people who use it.

It has some positive things but it seems the negative things are far more accessible that the good.

AS man evolves they seems to get darker, paranoid and thin skinned rather than growing in knowledge and wisdom as we would think they would have by having access to such resources.

but hey that is MHO

posted on Aug, 20 2015 @ 11:20 AM
a reply to: Revolution9

Is it though?

Already we're seeing, with the emerging of AI and holographic, 3d interactive technology, that the internet and it's components (whatever they may be at the time) can be plucked out of the network and brought to life (so to speak).

Should our utopia be open to business and finance? Or should they have their own separate web space, away from ours, where their deals can be made? The commercialism is increasingly obstructive though, from the forced ads placed on YouTube to the unskippable, obnoxious ads on some news sites. This is our utopia, where is our freedom to not see those? There's no opt in.

I agree about the teletext service and it being a free platform. But even though it's free, is it utopian?

posted on Aug, 20 2015 @ 11:22 AM
a reply to: ChesterJohn

And you're entitled to it.

Do you think then that it could be a utopia if men where to have a shift in their thinking patterns? That maybe if people could just use their anonymity for good, the internet as a whole would adapt to that? Or do you think it's too late, and like a proverbial Titanic it's taken on so much hatred it's destined to sink to the bottom?

posted on Aug, 20 2015 @ 11:27 AM
a reply to: Joneselius

We had a chance to create a brilliantly open, hate free space - a space were differences didn't matter because we are all essentially equal on-line (the true utopia) where ideas would flow freely and where businesses could easily thrive. Instead we've turned the internet into an alternate version of our now imploding reality.

Like anything good bigger interest move in and take over. Before the internet there was the main stream forming our minds and opinions. The same influence that controlled the mass media also controls the internet more and more.

The same creep here as there was there.

One way we see that creep is the ads. Who hasn't noticed that it went from no ads in the beginning, to skippable ads to longer and longer no skip ads… where do you think thats leading?

The same thing happened to cable tv. First it was no ads, then some, then regular breaks and now, the fees you paid in the beginning to not see ads are used to pay for the ads you have to watch.

Broad cast TV was free in the olden days to get people to watch ads. Same with propaganda. You know the extent of propagation of both by the ads.

posted on Aug, 20 2015 @ 03:21 PM
a reply to: Joneselius

Since at the heart of it the internet is a form of communication between humans (at this stage), how is it any different that other ways of communication, marks in the dirt, sign language, full-featured language, a telephone, reading materials, cinama, etc.

So then, how can it fail? The answer, of course, is that that the users share any blame or applause, not the medium. Forget the old saying of "The medium is the message." That was talk about a whole another area of argumentation.

Let us suppose that your frequent several different bars on Saturday night. You go bar hopping because you like the variety, the sports bar, the titty bar, the gay bar, the lesbian bar, the uptown bar and the biker bar. Bars are made to attract a certain type of clientele. ...And they do! Same way with anything on the internet. So has bars failed in some overall fashion of what the rules for a bar should be? You tell me what bars should be.

If every one of the communication types or devices have failed to date to "do the right thing" whatever that would be, why should the internet be deemed a failed attempt at utopia? --It could still be that if you say, enlisted a control mechanism that guided the whole outfit from the first keystroke until the last. What is a "utopia?" Is it something that simple is, that grows from nothing to being something, evidently a haven for right thinking, do gooding and praise for worthiness? There is nothing on earth that is a utopia for everyone or that even comes close for most. "Utopia," a gold-plated word for something that can never exist in any aspect in reality. Your brand of utopia could not possibly be my brand of utopia. So do we vote for some agency to control the internet to find a happy medium between your concepts and mine? That isn't utopia either. You are mistaken, it could not have been and never will be. Long life the internet. (You are aware that this same argument has been waged over TV a few decades ago?)

posted on Aug, 20 2015 @ 03:51 PM
a reply to: Aliensun

Yes, but it's fascinating how people's opinions adapt and change.

I use the word utopia more as a generalisation. As in, the perfect tool or place.

posted on Aug, 20 2015 @ 03:56 PM
a reply to: Joneselius

The internet is simply an honest reflection of society.

Which is kind of depressing if you really think about it.

posted on Aug, 20 2015 @ 06:22 PM
Perhaps Utopia is a failed internet?

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