People here in the 21st century like to make fun of the screeching noises our modems made in the late 20th century. My husband and I were the outliers when we made our home in a our small apartment in 1996; we had two phone lines, enabling us to both be online at the same time. We finished our time with America Online in that apartment; by the time we had moved to our first house in 1997 we had moved to a local Internet Service Provider and again we had two phones lines to accommodate our two 56K baud modems.
I vividly remember the Internet of the late 20th century. Heck, I vividly remember going online before the “Information Superhighway” was touted as a thing; I was dialing into local Bulletin Board Services and text based online services with my Commodore 64 in 1986. It was not much later that I was working for then the second largest computer company in the world where everyone had a computer on their desk. All of our computers were connected and if we knew the right path to get to another company, we could send email from our desk to a friend’s desk at another company hundreds of miles away.
Edward Snowden wrote about this in his book, “Permanent Record”: the Internet (and its precursors) was a much friendlier place back in the day. In the circles where I traveled, and I traveled in many online circles back then, our focus was on communication and information exchange. It would be literally decades before people aspired to be “influencers”. Honestly, getting online, navigating the systems, and actually staying connected was difficult for the average joe and because of this, there wasn’t a lot of flooding of misinformation, deception, and propaganda. Sure, we had bulletin boards where we talked about conspiracy theories and I kept up with the few folks I knew associated with ACT-UP, but it seemed to be very rare where there was so much spin and deception running rampantly across our screens.
I can’t get through one screen of Facebook without rolling my eyes at the stupidity of some of the people I have on my “friends” list. The list is growing shorter by the day.
I firmly believe our society was not prepared for the freedom offered with all information being instantly available. I don’t know that humans are truly equipped to handle this much information, especially when so many bad actors are easily getting onto the “Information Superhighway” to purposely disrupt, deceive, and destroy.
The Internet was suppose to bring us together, not rip us apart. But that’s exactly what it’s doing and unfortunately this destruction is making too many people rich, so it will never stop.
The idiocy of the Internet will outlive American society. I am convinced of that.
I miss the days when one had to be tech savvy to use a computer and get online. Now we can bark into our refrigerator to tweet.
Is that really a good thing?