The Internet: it’s the thing that literally consumes our lives pretty much every waking moment of our day. And while the Internet has technically connected us closer together with unprecedented speed and has given us access to information like never before in human history, it can also be a totally awful place where people are just lurking behind screens to be garbage to one another.
This time frame is going to be super embarrassing when years and years in the future it’s found by aliens or archaeologists who will undoubtedly cast much shade upon us. From dudes creeping, to people angrily yelling into the depths of the Internet with strangers (in which no side is going to win, ever) - it's a blackhole. The Internet is kind of like if we just threw out all the restraint and social contracts that keep us from being monsters to each other and just went at it - death match style. Here are 15 tweets (from the Internet, for the Internet) about what makes the Internet the terrible place we all love and hate so intensely.
Okay, so anyone who knows enough people over the age of 50 on the Internet knows this to be true about at least one of them. We all know that older people started out kinda wary of the Internet back when it felt like the Wild West, but these days, even those who were hesitant about being an early adopter, have jumped on in to the big cesspool that is the Inter-webs. And while they might not find the phantom serial killer they thought you’d meet online back in the day, a certain type of older person will almost certainly find a whole plethora of fake news and conspiracy theories espoused by random crackpots, which they will undoubtedly flood your inbox. Chemical trails give puppies AIDS? Fact. Hillary Clinton’s emails contain secret plots to nuke Texas? Fact. Acai berries make you literally immortal? Fact. And there’s no telling them otherwise.
"Please don't pick up, please don't pick up, please don't pick up."— Scott Simpson (@scottsimpson) July 3, 2012
—What I feel when I call anyone, ever, for anything.
This problem is way too real. It's one of the unique idiosyncrasies that the horrible Internet has driven, probably inextricably, into our lives. Because of it, and because of social media (as well as texting), we do pretty much all of our not-in-person communication in writing. Okay, let’s be real, we do pretty much all of our conversation in writing, because nobody hangs out in person anymore (also the Internet’s fault). This has instilled a serious fear of talking on the phone in many of us, especially those of us who are on the anxious side already.
At times, having to make a phone call seems like an unnatural and herculean effort that you kinda have to clench your fist and hope ends soon. This is why it feels like such sweet relief if whoever you needed to call is like, "nah." This, remarkably, is even true at times when you actually really need to reach the other person. You’d probably have a better chance actually getting in touch with them through texting, because, well, they probably are anxious about the phone, too.
If you’ve ever had the audacity to be female on the Internet, you know this special little phenomenon all too well. The famed Internet bro is the kind of person who runs his mouth talking about freedom of speech to espouse pretty much any offensive, ignorant idea (racism and sexism and homophobia, oh my!), but as soon as someone who happens to be female says anything he doesn’t agree with, that lauded belief in the sacredness of free speech goes right out the window. Suddenly, the woman in question becomes not an actual person with a well-formed opinion, but rather, some b**ch on her period that has a problem with him for no reason whatsoever.
It’s classic Internet grossness and it’s everywhere. And oh, if you try to point out this pattern of behavior to the particular "bro" who is obviously doing it, get ready for a hissy fit of epic proportions. No one throws a pointless hissy fit like an Internet bro.
Here is one of the most seriously garbage things about the Internet, no joke. It is an absolute god damned time vampire. Imagine you can’t remember the lyrics of a song, or who sang it, but it’s stuck in your head. I know, you think to yourself, "I will hop on the good old Internet and have a look." Cut to five hours later and you’re looking around dazed and wondering how you wound up in a Wikipedia hole like, five miles deep and listened to three separate versions of the Teletubbies theme song remixes and filled out 18 The Things quizzes and Facebook stalked your ex’s mother’s cousin’s cat. That is what the Internet does. It literally sucks you in and steals your time. If you really want to devastate yourself, think about what kind of person you’d be if you spend all the time you waste on the Internet on self-improvement. Sorry for making you cry.
So, it seems these days like we all pretty much understand the reality that the NSA and associated government agencies are totally watching everything we do and say and possibly think—who knows at this point. It’s a reality of the world the awful Internet has put us into. Like, not only can our calls and emails be traced, but we literally surrender tons of personal data, pictures, names of our friends and associates, political beliefs, locations, you name it—in data goldmines that you or I would call “Facebook” or “Twitter” or “Instagram.” Basically all our information is totally accessible by pretty much whoever wants it, government included. And, like this tweet shows, in order to stave off going straight up, tinfoil-hat-wearing insanity, it’s important to laugh about it every once in awhile. Like, it’s equally important to laugh about Obama’s mom jeans even though every time you think about him you just get really sad he isn’t the president anymore.
The thing about the Internet (as espoused by this tweet) is it creates weird layers of identity. Before we spent all our time online, the people you interacted with were generally people you knew - like, people you actually had to interact with on an ongoing basis, and therefore had to act in some way accountable toward.
Then there comes the Internet and that all goes out the window. Even online, there are different levels of you on. For instance, you are still operating as you (ie, under your own name), and generally, with people you know in real life, even if you don’t see them all the time. Therefore, even when you act a fool, you’re acting a fool as yourself. On forums like Twitter and Reddit, where you’re primarily interacting with people you don’t know, you can really be who you are deep down without fear of social repercussion. And while that’s great if you’re actually a good person, if you’re actually a crappy person (ie, most of the Internet), you’ve basically got free range to do what you want. Which is why YouTube comments sections look like they do.
Here’s another thing that’s totally awful about the Internet: how absolutely, inescapably, ridiculously addicted we are to having access to it at every moment of every hour of every damn day, 24-7, 365 days! Because we are constantly being connected with others and stimulated with information, activity, and facts, once that goes away, we absolutely do not know what to do with ourselves and it’s terrifying. Remember the last time your phone died on public transportation and you just had to sit there with your own thoughts like a monster? Remember how horrible that was? Or, god forbid, have you ever been in a situation where you were in a new house and the wifi hadn’t been installed yet, but you didn't have a strong signal anyway? Remember how absolutely lost you felt? Remember how minutes felt like hours and hours felt like days? Yeah, that’s probably not great now is it.
So, while I desperately wish that this is an exaggeration that could never actually happen, I think you and I, dear reader, both know that even if this tweet is joking, the reality of the situation it’s referring to is very real.
That situation is the fact that the Internet does this thing when it comes to facts. The Internet offers more information than ever before, but unfortunately (as seen in the first tweet of this series), much of that information is just flat out overtly wrong; despite being easily disproven with a simple Googling. The tweet actually comes from a whole big parade of the Internet being the worst when Nelson Mandela, famous apartheid-stopper and freedom-fighter, died. What followed was a whole bunch of people (whether in earnest or, later, in jest) putting up pictures of Morgan Freeman, American actor, in their RIP Tweets. Like, can we not be so blatantly dumb please?
Another straight up fabulous (and by fabulous, we mean terrible) thing the Internet has done, is create a space where people can come to spew horrible BS Holocaust denial and all sorts of other fun, hateful stuff. Whereas once people would have to leave their homes and don their hoods and robes to be actively racist, the Internet has made it such that being that sort of horrible person is now effort-free and can be done from home!
This Tweet is even more emblematic of why the Internet creates a space for Holocaust deniers because it’s an example of a tweet from TayTweets, the Twitter of a chatbot created by Microsoft that basically aggregates its tweets and responses from other peoples’ tweets around the Internet. So, it’s basically like asking the Internet a question. And apparently, there goes your answer: “The Holocaust was made up, with the clap emoji, and then someone else tweeting on the clap emoji instead of the actual content.” Jeez.
In the age of the great and ubiquitous email hack, it is understandable that Internet-based services are pretty concerned with password safety. Which, don’t get me wrong, is totally understandable. However, as anyone who has ever signed up for pretty much anything requiring a password knows, there is a tendency to go absolutely overboard. Like, at first we were just dealing with maybe a letter limit or a request to have one capital letter, fine. But when you go letter limit plus capital letter plus number, then you get into murky territory. Like, there is no way my goldfish-memoried self is going to memorize the 75 digits of pi level complicated password you are forcing me to create. And don’t even get me started on security questions. Bro, I have no clue what my favorite movie was in July of 2007. I have no idea what my grandmother’s favorite soup flavor is. Who even thinks of these things, what sort of maniacs are you?
Okay, this tweet straight up just gets at the Internet and all its horrors. Like really, Age of Ultron, a movie about monsters and superheros and all sorts of magical, otherworldly situations, still lands how ashamed we should be as a species that we act the way we do online. And that evidence of our garbage behavior is just there in a permanent digital archive that, if and when aliens show up here (if they, you know, haven’t already), would be right there without a care in the world for them to see. Imagine future archaeologists stumbling on the pages of particularly weird Tumblr fandoms. That uh...does not reflect kindly on us as a society or a species, straight up. The aliens would be like, “You know what, we’re all good,” and the archaeologists would be like, “Yeesh, that was a pretty dark period in human history, maybe we should like, let it stay in the past where it belongs, huh.”
Here’s the thing about the uniquely crappy behavior on the Internet: if you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of your time on the Internet arguing. But not arguing with someone you know, someone you’re building a relationship with or even someone who could be remotely swayed by your argument. No, by in large, you are arguing with a complete stranger, and not just any complete stranger, but one who has absolutely no intention to change their opinion on the topic of conversation. Like this tweet signifies, it is the classiness and productivity version of fighting in public at a Golden Corral, which, if I assume correctly, is not how or where most useful, fruitful debates take place. And yet, arguing on the Internet with strangers who will never change their minds is like one of the main things that we do online (and therefore, what we do in life). These are some dark times, friends.
Ugh, THIS thing. If you ask around, I’m going to wager that literally if not almost literally, every single woman on the Internet has experienced this type of creeper and this type of message before. Probably a great deal of men have, too. That’s how pervasive this type of creeping is. The strategy, it seems, is to message anyone you find on the Internet. They come out of nowhere, have no mutual friends, and somehow try to send creepy messages to you without any regard for your emotions or morals. Why? Because they're complete STRANGERS who are going out of their way to start some kind of Internet relationship. Do we answer them? No! Do they keep messaging random things to try and hook us? Yes! Take a hint pal, if we do not answer you after days, weeks, months, or years - we're probably never going to answer you. So hop off our account and get a life.
In the continuing adventures of being a woman on the Internet and dealing with ensuing male garbage behavior, this tweet actually has the best idea ever. No, seriously. Think about how much less terrible people would behave if, at the click of a button on Twitter, or YouTube, or Facebook, or even the horrible MRA spaces on Reddit, you could make an online harasser’s shameful treatment of women online accessible to the woman who brought him into the world. I want to say this would make people (and the Internet) less terrible, but if this article has shown me anything, it’s to remember that the Internet is kind of a terrible place and might be beyond fixing. We're in too deep. This is still worth a shot, though, IMHO. If only for the look on some basement dweller’s face when his mom sees his harassing behavior and cuts the wifi and his phone privileges. "But moooooooom!"
Okay, this one definitely applies to men and women alike. The Internet is where everything goes to escalate to 11, specifically the things we’re indoctrinated to believe but are usually kept in check (like sexism, ya know, for instance). Capitalism and conspicuous consumption are no different. We’re all bombarded with images and ads and just a general mindset that we can solve all of our problems by purchasing things, which is problematic for a lot of reasons, but which, before the Internet, was impeded by having to go to a physical store to buy the probably-useless crap that almost definitely won’t significantly change your life. Now, voila! Pretty much everything you’d ever want to buy is available without even having to put on pants or face another human being about. But for sure, one of these days, the solution to all your problems and the path to enlightenment will totally be found in an Amazon box...or five. For sure.