Help To Save The World: Go Online

from the easy-when-you-know-how dept

Too often we read that the Internet is making us stupid or fat, or destroying the “fabric of society.” Indeed, judging by the all the digital jeremiads it’s a wonder that anybody dares to use it at all, since it’s clearly irredeemably bad in every way. So it’s refreshing to come across an upbeat piece from Lauren Weinstein with the inspiring title “How the Internet Can Save the World.” His basic point is this:

When people have the easy and inexpensive means to communicate directly, especially in informal settings and about the everyday aspects of life, they usually discover that they have much more in common than they perhaps expected. This seems true whether we’re using written communications, or audio and video links like Skype or Google+ Hangouts — working our way ever closer toward a full “virtual presence” that makes our common humanity impossible to ignore.

In other words, far from always isolating us, or bringing out the worst, the Internet also has the power to unite us and bring out the best. That’s another reason why we need to worry when governments or interest groups try to control the Internet, and dictate what we can and cannot say and do on it: it’s not just an assault on our freedoms, it’s also an obstacle to greater understanding between people and nations.

Weinstein concludes:

I spend much of my time considering the ways in which the wonders of the Internet could be wrecked, or blocked, or subverted. But it’s also important that we consider the vast potential the Net holds for improving the world in the most relevant and important of ways.

Not just in terms of science and research, though those are great. Not just in regard to commerce and the global economy, though these are crucial.

But also in terms of the basic fact of fundamental human communications, of being able to as freely and openly as possible discuss with other mere mortals around the planet the nature of our lives, hopes and dreams, our loves, and yes, our fears as well.

It’s a post that makes you glad you use the Internet, not guilty, as the pundits of pessimism would have us feel. Read the whole thing — and then to go back to what you were doing before: helping to save the world by communicating with others online.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+

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Comments on “Help To Save The World: Go Online”

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23 Comments
Narcissus (profile) says:

Not so sure...

‘they usually discover that they have much more in common than they perhaps expected.’

It seems Ms Weinstein has never visited the places where someone mentions:
a. Any particular gaming console
b. Any particular subset of PCs (Windows/Mac)
c. Football should be called soccer
d. Any particular religion or lack of it
e. Praise/critique of copyright/patent laws

3,2,1… Start Flame war!

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Not so sure...

OK, outside of (c) you have a valid point.

But. still, outside of trolls and paid “agents” (and I hope they don’t pay bob much..what the hell..blow the bank on him!) there’ no reason that a discussion can’t take place on almost all that list once people get by their biases.

In fact we’ve seen it in this forum where, outside of the trollish types and self appointed MPAA/RIAA defenders people have changed their views. We’re not in a pub where largish amounts of beer cement arguments in place, often just for the fun of it.

Where we aren’t exposed to constant propaganda about the “enemy” types whoever they may be we have this wonderful tendency to get along. It also means the “enemy”, whoever they are, are easier to spot.

They’re the ones that want to divide us.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

CENSORED

“When people have the easy and inexpensive means to communicate directly, especially in informal settings and about the everyday aspects of life, they usually discover that they have much more in common than they perhaps expected.”

Governments do not like this. When people communicate and share ideas, it weakens the control of mass media and government. The public begins to question policies that we are told are for our benefit but contrast with reality. Politicians can corporations can no longer just state things without evidence to back up their statements, because netizens will simply seek out the facts and share them At best this makes the corporations/governments look incompetent and at worst appears to be flat out lying to the public.

Therefore the internet must be controlled. Unfortunately, the powers that be seem to think of the internet as a phone or television and the controls that work on those mediums just don’t seem to have much effect on the interwebs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: CENSORED

“Unfortunately, the powers that be seem to think of the internet as a phone or television and the controls that work on those mediums just don’t seem to have much effect on the interwebs.”

I would have gone with “fortunately”.

If these clueless morons ever do figure out how the interwebs work, then we may have a real challenge on or hands.

Randall D (user link) says:

I think most of us would agree...

I think most of us would agree that the internet is a wonderful way to share information. One of the best ideas I’ve seen online is the Charter for Compassion – http://charterforcompassion.org/ . It could, potentially, help “Save The World”. Pretty much everyone could get behind it, and channel energy into it, instead of wasting energy fighting over controversial issues and accomplishing little (except creating more sorrow and strife).

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