A Few thoughts about the Internet

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Photo by Fernanda Marin on Unsplash

Most of us use the internet everyday. We all have different reasons why we need it, and most us have similar reasons for using it.

Social Media is a similar reason, and research for a job is a different reason. To pass the time of day is reason that most of us have.

Like, Not Like

I love and hate the internet, I can use it to research an idea, cure my curiosity about something somebody said, or use it like it was my personal library without having to put up with some old man wheezing into his newspaper at the next table.

There are skills that we all need to learn as internet users. When hunting down information, we shouldn’t just believe that the first article we read is the truth. It could have been written by an ignoramus who is good with words. Cross checking things by bouncing around and getting diverse opinions on a subject can give us a better lead into our topic. Then go and buy a book written by an expert — that’s if you want to get deeper into the subject.

An book is often the result of studied work, cross-referencing, and the author was motivated to do a good job of turning out a useful resource.

Being able to tell the difference between a truth and a lie is often dependant on the context in which we encounter the said ‘fact’. So we have to watch out.

“There’s a compounding and unravelling chaos that is perpetually in motion in the Dark Web’s toxic underbelly.” ― James Scott, Senior Fellow, Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology

There are spooky places on the internet, places where I’ve not been but only hear about. The expression, “Dark-Web”, gets said quickly, and under the breath, and I’m never sure if I should stop the speaker and ask, “what’s the dark-web all about?”.

I might open a can of worms, they might tell me about the wild parties happening down there in the darkness, the place where angels fear to tread. I’ve always liked those places. My experiences of dark and spooky places has only happened in the real world, face time with strange, shady characters that you would never tell your mother about.

I like the idea that I don’t know what the Dark-Web is, just to know it exists makes it full of foreboding, Crowley-ian Magick, wickedness and the possibility that something weird is happening in the world.

I’d like to think that it’s safer to stick to Social Media sites, but to sit and passively scroll through reams of memes and cat photos makes me feel like I’m an editor for a satirical magazine.

The constant flow of advice, suggestions and updates about my friends’ dinner. The plate full of wet sticky food, followed by a later post with a photo of an empty dinner plate and a half glass of wine, I don’t know how I should react. I feel that I’m supposed to make an appropriate comment about how glad I am that my friend has finished her dinner.

I think Freud would have a field day with these full dinner plate — empty dinner plate images.

We think that we are discerning people, educated enough to tell the difference between what’s bad for us and what’s edifying for us. The thing is, places like the Dark-Web might be safer than being on Social Media sites.

There’s been a lot of talk about fake-news. There’s also those nasty little bots that follow you around and build a data image of what you like, what you want, and especially what you don’t posses but would love to own.

The people who build and design these bots, and work on the algorithms that get into every nook and cranny of our online lives, don’t really like what they are doing. A few of them have quit the job, and more than one or two have written books and articles about how really invasive these things are.

I wonder if the Dark-Web is really a safe haven for “runners”. Could it be a place across the divide? Maybe people like me have believed the propaganda that comes with a “hush, hush, we don’t discuss the dark-web, it’s a bad place,”. The advice is to stay on the open net, use Social media to contact your friends and enjoy the cat photos. When really, the Dark-web is a Free-State- Zone where people don’t mention Brexit or Trump, and sell second hand X4 Rocket motors on the black market.

I’m still trying to figure out the cat photo phenomenon of the internet. Is it just that people love cats, or is it a subtle Russian ploy to pacify us, next step pictures of cute Russian bears dancing to David Bowie songs.

The Dark-Web, I imagine, is a place where people talk about and trade in anything they like. That sounds like a bad thing — especially if you are someone who is trying to get control of the internet.

Telling people that algorithms are so powerful that they know exactly what you want to buy, is propaganda. Why? Because you can change your mind at any time you please, just a little self-discipline. An algorithm knows very little about what you will think of next.

So we need to be vigilant in our use of the internet. We need to be discerning about how we use it and what we believe is written in the Meme, or the image of a Buddha on FB that slips past our eyes with a message of hope on it. Most common is a message telling us how we should feel about ourselves. How we feel is our business, not the internet’s.

Pre-internet days were free of these things of the web. We didn’t tell people what they should feel and think, and if a person tried to, it would be in a bar where too much alcohol had been drunk, and the person giving the feel better advice generally called you in the morning and apologised for being such boring git.

To be discerning about our time on the web is probably the most important thought about Social Media that we have.

To remember that we can think for ourselves and make decisions that are based on deliberating on a subject, then drawing conclusions according to our own needs would be a great way to spend our days. It’s like meditating on the go, thinking.

Still, I’m healthily intrigued by what the hell the Dark-Web is.

Written by

Berlin Notes — Writing about the Creative Art of Living http://seandurham.eu

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