If the internet does have a dark side, then ...

Where would this be more likely to be noticed ?

Countries where computer comunication technologies have been building up slowly, right from their inception?.. Or countries where computers and the internet are a relatively NEW thing ?

Read the blog entry below, to learn of changing attitudes in India.

youthcurry.blogspot.com/2007/03/ … ernet.html


I don’t think anyone can deny that the net is an alienating medium.

Well, why?

yes, almost as if we are heading into a future where everyone will stay at home—in pods.

There could actually be an up-side to this.

If the internet distracts IT students away from their useless studies, then eventually there will be no one to repair the computers when they break down.

The pogo-stick was popular for a short while … as bumps and bruises teach more quickly.

There is hope.


Since the net is a relatively new technology, it is just going through an explosion of popularity right now. Back when movable type hit Europe, everybody that could afford it was printing silly paphlets about this-and-that.

Plus, the net is on the computer, the thing you are supposed to be working on. So, if you are relatively slick ‘working’ and ‘playing’ look pretty much the same. When the boss walks by and you are hitting on that hot chick from the Imaging Core by the water cooler, it is hard to pretend that you were working. Sure, you can fumble and start talking about some new technique . . . but they know.

They also often know with the computer, but it is more acceptable, for now.

I spend a lot of time looking at pornography at work. Some people get embarrassed when they see what I am looking at, but I just tell them sex is natural and nothing to be ashamed of.

The darkside of the internet is the freedom of the oppressed. The forth stage of Leninism is here. Cyber-Leninism, to be precise, and in this new modern age “information demands to be free.” Yup, the greatest mistake of democracy is the freedom of speech. The last thing capitalists want is communists being able to communicate with each other. Now choke on it, suckas.

“CyberLeninism involves the explicit addition, to classical Leninism, of the principle of “information wants to be free”. In a modern, developed, complex society, the principle of “information wants to be free” fits classical Leninism as a bullet does a rifle --and in the age in which information is increasingly flowing in ways which cannot be stopped–restores to Leninism the status of a weapon which, in the hands of the proletariat, will prove to be invincible.”

Comrades, read this carefully (stage four):


See you on the internet front…

Over and out.

The darkest side of the internet I’ve seen was on the Yahoo message boards. They had boards that let you post comments about a news story.

Everyone reads the news so you get a real cross section in the forums. I’ve read the most base comments I’ve ever seen on there.

Every hate word imaginable: nigger, jew, faggot, home, coon, spic, and ones I’ve never even heard of.

Still this might not be a bad thing. It reveals what people are thinking and that’s not all bad.

Alienation seemed to be what Xiuxan was talking about and I think the original poster SirErbum. To that, I say, do you think it alienates all people or only certain types of people?

Take a case for example: My cousin is extremely shy. He doesn’t know how to talk to or meet women. He spends a lot of time online. He has met a girl online that lives 1000 miles from him. Now, is this connecting him with someone or keeping him from making real connections with people?

Further, are there types of people, timid/shy, who become more alienated because it keeps them from confronting their fears or does it give them a mean to confront their fears in a safer environment.

Second, does it alienate the outgoing and social types? It seems to me that those types would not be satisfied with human interactions that come only from the internet.

Third, what about the television? Does this alienate as well?

Of course television alienates! Far far more than the net because the communication is only one way!

But I do think that your cousin is experiencing alienation due to the internet because the net lets him stay shy. Rather than confronting his problems and overcome them, he can use the internet and side-step them entirely. That does not a better person make.

Having only arrived on the web size=84[/size] a couple of years ago at the age of thirty - I can’t really comment.

Alcohol cured my shyness - All my girlfriends / lovers stemmed from drunken one-night-stands with total strangers. I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of person I would be today, had I grown up with the internet as it is now. My life could be better, or much much worse. I’ll never know.


I don’t think anyone can deny that (as in all ‘writing’) it’s a double bind. For every alienation there’s also a connection.

Echographies of Television

Undeniably there are connections that are formed. However, are we trading one valid means of connection for another, or are we trading a superior means of connection for an inferior one?

The internet has its place, and the connections formed on the internet are useful – it allows a degree of collaboration, for example, that would have been very difficult without it. But when it becomes a person’s sole means of interaction with the outside world, or at least their preferred method, then that person has lost a great deal.

I’m not a luddite longing for the days of sitting around a campfire, but at the same time I think that people are going too far and forgetting their roots.

I’ll check out the book, but I disagree with some of the comments in the synopsis, since it isn’t the inclusion of more people in our lives that makes us feel less at home in the world, but rather the increased aspect of a more privatized, individualized existence. If the closest we get to communal action is internet fora, we are in deep doo-doo.

By what metalanguage might we objectively assess comparable means of connection?

None. Which makes any such ranking of them an impossible task. Each means of connection will tend to rank itself above the others, so whichever we use to compare/rank will be partial.

They have also gained a great deal. Interacting with human beings face-to-face is massively overrated. Most of the time, people with whom you converse via speech are almost entirely constrained by the societal norm of there having to not be gaps in the conversation for thought. Most people simply exchange a few habitual pleasantries and received phrases, due to lacking the time to be more careful with language.

The internet liberates people from this, or at least, this form of dialogue that we’re having does. We can take our time and have a more careful and indeed particular (i.e. individual) interaction that would be possible through face-to-face contact.

Yet you’re a scientist. I find this, frankly, bizarre.

Likewise, if the closest we get to conversation is the repetition of prepared phrases, we’re in deep doo doo.

The synopsis isn’t great, but the book is. One of the best Derrida ever published.

Why, because all scientists are radical progressives and want to destroy the foundations of society and replace them with machines? One can believe quite firmly in the virtue of the investigation of things while still desiring formal structure.

I guess I like the ritualized aspect of communication. There is a thread on another site where I discussed ritualization a bit, but here is the gist of it:

The problem with the internet is that it bypasses many of these rituals and instead starts us right at the end. What sort of a tool for self-cultivation is that?

While it is great for discussing philosophy, or other topics that were traditionally best done by writing letters, in terms of genuine social interactions I find it quite limited. All the information exchange, none of the pleasantries. It both allows and encourages things like shyness and social awkwardness which were traditionally minimized in face-to-face conversations. Internet encourages the decay and abandoment of co-humanity and instead focuses on the information a person has. It aids in the commodification of people.

Look around you at how many people are getting dates from things like myspace or whathaveyou as opposed to just growing a pair and asking the nice lady out face-to-face. The internet encourages the cultivation of cowardice.

Look at how many people say things on the internet that they never would say in public! The internet encourages a loss of shame and decorum.

Rather than internalizing these things as we once did and make them a part of ourselves, the internet encourages the development of the worst sort of dramatological persona. People feel they can be ‘real’ on the internet so they forgo the internalization of social ritual and thereby neglect self-cultivation.

That’s interesting, cause you know, there is a dark side to alcohol too, you know?

We can probably generalize this to say measures taken to overcome fears can be bad, since people can become satisfied with the measure rather than using the measure as a step to move past the fear itself.

What about the fact that television gives people a common ground? I mean, I can go up to anyone and say American Idol and they’ll know what that is, or George Bush and war in Iraq, right? TV gives us common experiences, common information, stuff like that that gives us a simple starting point that can aid in making a real connection with someone.

And, I think a lot of us have bonded with people talking about our favorite shows on the TV, and in some ways, those connections can be really deep, when in the cess pool of TV you find someone who appreciates and discovers what we have discovered in the midst of that cess pool.

Not just because of that.

It’s not that, it’s that as a scientist you can’t really pick and choose which technology you approve of and which you don’t. Either you’re in that game or you aren’t.

Redundancy and entropy are always interplaying. My point is that the internet, like the rejection of table manners, can be a liberator, a fuel for entropy, for imagination, just as it can be a destroyer of established, redundant language and social practices that may well be worth keeping. It is not just one or the other.

How is talking face to face any more genuine that writing a letter or an internet post?

And pleasantries are genuine how, exactly?

Both encourage shyness. Plenty of people are useless at speaking in public but far more confident in their opinions when writing.

This is certainly true, but as with all technology, there’s an economy, an exchange. You seem to have a problem with reducing people to information, yet don’t seem to have a problem in describing them genetically. It’s the same process.

What do you care how people get dates? If they still meet up and fall in love and get some happiness, why the hell are you trying to stop them? I speak as someone who has never experienced anything of that sort involving the internet.

Or encourages people to throw off the oppression of language by needless, elitist social norms.

Quite frankly, this is liberal nonsense. What do you know about yourself if you allow your opinions to be entirely derived from the internalisation of social rituals? What value, politically and socially, is there in reducing the means by which people can learn about themselves and each other?

Well, first off, I think an all-or-nothing approach to technology is pretty limited and silly. Is there no room for nuance? And I do think that the internet is a nifty piece of technology, I just think it is being used improperly, beyond where it excels and instead is used to hamper areas where it doesn’t work as well because it is easier and involves less personal risk and effort It should also be noted that I’m not a computer scientist, am I? Life sciences, and that is what I love: life.

Of course! And there is always a place for conflict, it is to a large degree unavoidable but that doesn’t mean we should embrace it willy-nilly. History has shown itself to be quite progressive, but progress for the sake of progress leads to nowhere if it isn’t firmly rooted in something. It is one of the reasons why the Hippie movement fizzled and died out. The counter-culture of the '60s wanted to destroy the establishment that was holding them back (fair enough) but then failed to replace it with anything, so you teeter on the brink of societal and moral collaps before it swings back the other direction and at the end of the day, very little ground has been made. Far better to keep progress slow and controlled, to ensure its forward direction. Unrestrained capitalism leads to wild fluxuations in the market, while more controlled capitalism helps smooth those curves. I feel that a similar pattern could be observed in society at large.

Because so much of communication is non-verbal. By cutting out that element, much of the fundamental connection is lost. People on the net
often lament how they “don’t actually know each other” (there have been a good number of threads on both ILP and ILO that touch on this subject). This is because the medium seperates people from their natural form of communication. A look, a handshake, a bow, the way someone’s eyebrows move – all of these give vital information. The internet and letter writing divorce us from our senses, leaving us deaf, blind, and asensual.

Pleasantries establish a common ground that allows for sincere communication. Herbert Fingarette argues that in the perfomance of ritual we are most genuinely human, and I agree with him completely. Within the confines of ritual the notion of ‘self’ becomes much less important and instead we focus on the act itself and our relationship with the other person.

That supports what I am saying! In order to be good at public speaking, one must speak publically! Writing allows a shortcut on this and allows people to accept their shyness while still getting their thoughts out. Good for information, bad for people.

And I struggle with this notion. However, I think it is different to say that I value person X because of the information that they possess as opposed to saying that I recognize that person Y is largely shaped by his genetics. One places a value on a person while the other recognizes a constraint, so I think they are qualitatively different.

Because it encourages the privitization of humanity creating division and seperation rather than fueling unity. There is much more to being a family than simply two parents and children! While I don’t want to necessarily stop them, I lament the fact that people have moved to a medium where people are truly commodified. I know several people who go, “shopping for boyfriends” looking at carefully presented, manufactured profiles designed to attract. This is a gross violation of fundamental human dignity.

While this has been going on to a certain extent forever (dressing up to go to bars, ect.) it has reached new heights on the internet. A relationship founded on the notion of humans as a commodity does not suggest a healthy society.

Depends on how you look at it. I say those social norms are what make us truly human.

I talk about my views on ‘self’

a bit here


And on a variety of other threads – but I feel that ‘self’ is a social construct, so what can we know about ourselves that is independent of society and its influence? I am not trying to reduce it, but rather see the internet as a sort of society with malign influences on the individual, encouraging the development of anti-social tendencies which creates self-destruction.

So it isn’t that I want to reduce the means available for people to learn about each other, but I also don’t want to see people mistaking the information a person has for the person. Social interaction on the net is shakey at best and is certainly not the sort of thing someone ought ground themselves in. As an aspect, a portion, a corrective even (to strike down those elitist norms you are concerned about) it is fine, but not as a foundation. And I am afraid I am seeing it become more and more of a foundational element.

Edit: In short, I view the self as emergent rather than foundational and I’m not sure the internet provides a very good soil from which it ought sprout.

I think the fact that this discussion was proposed in the first place indicates that to some, the Internet has power and influence beyond what really exists. It’s a wonderful technology, but much of it is replacement of less convenient or lower tech forms of something, like libraries or CD’s or radios or newspapers or mail order catalogs or the telephone. The Net has no particular morality or set of values, it has no expectations or point of view. It doesn’t care if I had a bad day or if I’m worried about my grandmother’s health. It doesn’t get hurt, and the people on it are mostly what as I imagine them to be. For example, I can read the writing of one particular poster on here and think, “wow, he writes with such insight and intelligence” and then project all sorts of other desirable qualities for him (or her). That’s fantasy, it has nothing to do with the poster or what he thinks or writes. In the years since I was introduced to the Net, I’ve met only two people in person that I first encountered on line. Both were nice people, but we basically started from the beginning in terms of getting to know each other after we met face-to-face.