Destroying the Illusion of Better

Did the internet deliver exactly what was promised?

We have had the internet for decades, and everyone thought it would usher in a new era of knowledge sharing and democracy. Few predicted that it would so effectively facilitate the death of quality journalism and the rise of populism and fake news. [i won’t cite the person since this was a throwaway line and I don’t want risk a dogpile]

As far as I can tell the internet delivered exactly what everyone agreed it would back in the 90s, everyone has a voice now and a direct means of publishing their thoughts (even if their facebook friends have learned not to read it). Vastly more info is at our fingertips and we can factcheck stories in an instant for lies, but also omissions and burying of the lead, and affective manipulation.

And as a result we’ve realized the “intellectuals” and “adults in the room” have been lying to us and manipulating us the whole time.

. . .

At this point I don’t understand what people think the internet has failed to deliver. Unless “Democracy and Knowledge Sharing” where always an either witting or unwitting euphemism for “what i believe and those idiots over there don’t get”, then i don’t see how democracy and knowledge sharing haven’t occurred vastly in excess of what everyone expected.

I have a theory.

I think we believed that the Internet would distribute information to everyone. We'd have entire worlds at our fingertips, all the knowledge anyone could want. And this would finally make us all intellectually equal: brought up to the levels of elites, for the first time in history.

And they were almost right.

The Internet has distributed information to everyone. We have entire worlds at our fingertips, all the knowledge anyone would want. And in many levels, we're now intellectually equal . . .

. . . because it turned out the elites had no clothes. They were just human. They were just us.

The Internet didn't make us better. It destroyed the illusion of "better". It showed us there was no easy path, there was no free lunch, that we all have to do the hard work of getting better and that there was no elite caste of intellectual brilliance that we could model ourselves after.

That the people we thought were leading us through the jungle were just as lost and incompetent as we were.

So now everyone's trying to beat their own path through the jungle, and a lot of people are being devoured by lions, and this was always the case and lots of people were always being devoured by lions, but at least back then we could say that this was simply because they weren't following the right leaders, and now the concept of leadership is dead but the lions are still very real and it's actually all rather terrifying.