Ranting over the Internet

I love the Internet. Thank you, Al Gore, for inventing it. I’ve written before about how lonely it was growing up in a rural area in late 80s and early 90s. After the sun went down and people went to bed, it could be very lonely.

I am so thankful that thanks to the Internet, I am never alone. Someone is always awake or at the very least, I can tweet something, knowing it will be seen later. Having such high regard for Twitter and Facebook seems silly and frivolous but folks, I lived in a rural area in which nothing happened after sunset. It was incredibly isolating and lonely.

That said, I like to think the Internet exposes us all to new ideas and ways of thinking. Unfortunately, what I’ve discovered is that while the Internet is a democratizing tool, what it enables is every mode of thinking from the incredibly ignorant to the brilliant. Or maybe I should stop beating around the bush: there are some stupid people on the Internet. And these stupid people often share their stupidity widely and loudly.

Am I being elitist? Narrow-minded? Judgmental? Yes, probably. And I own it proudly. Because when did the ability to think critically become a negative????

The truth is that that while the Internet has enabled unbelievable levels of connectivity, it has also given everyone a voice. And I’m shocked at some of what I read.

Before the rise of the Internet. I could believe that people were mostly intelligent and thoughtful. Now, however, I am forced to conclude that many people don’t have a damn clue what they are talking about and lack the ability to think critically. Because I’ve read them. Their articles. Their blogs. It’s appalling.

What the hell has happened to our civilization in which critical thinking has become a lost skill? And if your comment is anything other than, “OMG! U R a rock star,” your comment is deleted. What happened to discourse? To thought?

I realize that I am on a tangent, but I have seen some stuff recently that makes me want to throw knives at the wall. Hard. Deep impact.

So here is a brief list of what to stop doing on the Internet as of today. I know the list will grow and feel free to suggest your own items.

  • Stop trying to prove you can eat healthily on $5 a day or whatever. Here’s the thing. You are missing the full picture of what it is like to be poor in this country, so your experiment is nothing but ignorant and elitist. If you want to replicate typical conditions, work outside the home all day and then have to take mass transit to a store in your area. Buy only what you can carry and then go home.  Or, go to a store and buy what is available period. Do you have an hour to cook lentils or quinoa? Or are your children asking for dinner around 6 PM because they need to be in bed before 8 so they can be up when needed the next morning? If I want to cook fresh chicken, it will take me almost an hour in the oven or 15-20 minutes on the stove top. Pork? 30 minutes in the oven.  It’s easy to focus on, “I bought all this awesome food for $5 and cooked in 20 minutes” when  you are either home all day and/or live in an area in which such food is readily available.  The bottom line is that YOU DON”T KNOW what it is like, and your laughable experiments help no one.
  • Stop fat-shaming. Do you think overweight people don’t know they are fat? Do you think that your posting pictures on your blog of barely-obscured identities will help? Posting pictures is horrific and unethical. What gives YOU the right to be the arbiter for health and acceptance in this country? Especially when you likely don’t have all the information. Let’s look at statistics about poverty as well as food availability in an area.  Do you really think any parent wants their child to be overweight and unhealthy? NO. The problem, though, is likely what food is available and that can vary dramatically based on income level.  Not because the parents don’t know better but because of what is available and affordable.  So before you start fat-shaming children on the Internet, stop and think for a moment…a few seconds (surely your brain can spare that?) about what might be contributing the situation you feel compelled to pillory.

Rant over. For now. Seriously: what do you want to see ended on the Internet?

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4 comments

  1. I’m not disagreeing with you on this but I will point out that, yes, some cultures *do* encourage their children to be overweight as it’s seen as a sign of affluence. Fatshaming= bad. Education=good.

  2. I do think that the Internet provides people with an opportunity to surround themselves with people who are Just.Like.Them. Which is good sometimes (when people already feel alienated and need to know that they’re not alone, as you point out), but not so good other times (when what we really need is intelligent, civil discourse).

    I hate people’s perfect lives on the internet. I hate the ridiculous amount of time spent on pimping and showing off the frivolous things that so many people can’t afford. I also really don’t love parenting advice. Stories are one thing … but preaching is quite another. I don’t need to be made to feel “less than” because I have done it differently.

  3. Oh, I think in general that social experiments have gotten out of hand, and I blame that on people doing that not for the social experiment itself but for the blog posts or book they’ll write about it later. Or social experiments without the sociology background in order to create data that is usable. When done well and thoughtfully, it can be brain-exploding. When done without the background to pull it off, it falls flat. Or it becomes a “so?”

    I think I avoid more than I encounter. For instance, I spend zero minutes on Pinterest because I have no desire to see what other people have done with mason jars. I went on there long enough to get one cake idea, and now I make that cake over and over again. You literally can’t tell which birthday the kids are celebrating from the pictures because the cake and activities always seem to be the same. Three cheers for lack of change!

  4. Ah! Yeah, I am not a fan of the healthy living advice on Pinterest and beyond. I don’t think the people touting them are very truthful and I suspect that good old fashion eating disorders and not the green juice recipes are why they look the way they do. Being thin is WAY too important in our culture. (It’s also the thing I beat myself up about the most so I own that I have issues on this topic.)

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