I had an internet meltdown today. I saw an article in my Facebook newsfeed, one being commented on and shared that 1) was factually incorrect, 2) listed no author, nor identified the credentials of the site itself, 3) used links to other posts on the same site as the majority of its source citations. Why? Why was this on the internet? Why had it gotten picked up by a major news source? AND WHY DOES IT MAKE ME WANT TO PULL MY TOENAILS OUT?
The article itself isn’t important. I decided not to call it out here, nor on Facebook because 1) no one appointed me the internet police, 2) I don’t want offend anyone who liked it, and 3) the whole point of posting a flagrantly irresponsible article is to get people to click on it, whether its because it’s great or it’s a train wreck. I won’t fall into your Internet Trash Trap, article!
I thought though, after vocalizing my concerns earlier today, how even though it’s fun to rail against “the internet” when these things happen, it’s a total misdirection of outrage. It’s not the internet, it’s people. And the distinction is important.
Recently, there’s been some buzz about a study that found Facebook makes us sadder. Really? Social media actually makes me really happy. It quantifiably adds to my happiness. How confusing. What experts are assuming is that people are getting bummed out by social media because it allows us to constantly compare ourselves to others. So, Facebook isn’t really making us sadder, it’s jealousy. Human jealousy. Just like it’s not the internet’s fault that crack-pot journalism exists. We’ve had that since the advent of the free press. The freer the press, the more junk we get. You win some, you lose some.
I felt like this was an important thing to remember, because we humans love to take the easy way out when it comes to blame. It’s easier to blame the internet for bad journalism or Facebook for human sadness or the government for, you know, everything. But the internet is just tubes that connect humans. Social media is just a communications tool. And we are the one who elect our officials. So if we want any of these things to be better, it’s on us, guys.