What’s different about the internet as opposed to other forms of media is that it tricks our brains to believe that, while we sit and paw at the keyboard haphazardly trying to make a connection with the world, that the images we see are of a life that we aren’t living; that somewhere, someone is having the time of their lives, dancing naked, say, in a Darth Vader mask. It creates a false sense of being, a topographical map entirely of peaks and valleys and nothing in between. There is very little quality entertainment about dull minutia, the daily grind, so we are presented with the best and worst of any given narrative. Hence why web-related arguments are so divisive. There is no moderate voice because it would simply have to be shouted out to be heard.
With television, there’s a voyeuristic quality; that people on the screen inherently know that they are being filmed and that we the viewers know that we are inherently here to watch. With the internet, it’s not entirely unlike an old timey carnival, or, at the very best of times, like street performers or busking. You can walk past large numbers of people that will continue to perform or spout their rhetoric or narrative regardless of whether someone is watching (which is true of any given street performer) until you find a voice or character that interests you. But can the carnival go on indefinitely, or will it, as it appears to be doing, descend into Lord Of The Flies-esque divisiveness? As more and more ordinary people put themselves into the grid and become a part of the online collective will we become more dissentious? Who will eventually have the gall to become the voice of the (seemingly) silent moderate majority?
Let’s put it this way: When the masses eventually realizes that their culturally cherished Facebook profile is little more than a spreadsheet and not the bastion of gleaming self expression that they had once thought it was, will they keep going? Simply put: where is this going, and who is the voice of reason?