Sunday, October 7, 2012

Internet antipathy

So much of what happens on the internet is petty squabbles between strangers. Arguments which flare up and then fade away, which will have no effects outside of making some people temporarily inflamed/enthused/bewildered. But if you dismissed every internet disagreement on that basis, you'd be highly naive. Reputations are built and ruined on the internet. Connections are made and broken, careers begun and ended, romances kindled and snuffed out. And oftentimes, it's hard to recognize when one of these things is taking place because all you, the subjective observer, can people talking.

So it's hard to know sometimes which disagreements to pay attention to, what it means to be "internet famous" and whether anyone should actually want that any more than they'd want to be regular-famous, and how people can become so passionate about things you wouldn't imagine anyone would care about for more than five seconds. On the internet, attention is a free market. People will care about what they care about, and frequently that will be things like voting for Taylor Swift to give a free concert at a school for the deaf. Because on the internet, people think some really stupid things are just hilarious. 

I blogged a few months ago on the topic of how empathy works in that atmosphere, and how charity can arise from anarchy when enough people are paying attention. Unfortunately, so can wrath, jealousy, and casual sadism. People can find both reasons and opportunities to be incredibly altruistic, but also to punish perceived wrongdoers exponentially more than the wrong that was done, and to generally be enormous douches when the mood strikes or they just get bored enough. 

I don't, for example, know why you'd create necklaces similar to that of a person whose internet presence is shaped around the jewelry she makes which espouse a particular ideology, which mock both her and the ideology, and then wear them to a conference she's attending for the specific purpose of provoking her. I just don't. But I do know where the idea came up. 

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