Saturday, 1 September 2012

Blip: The misrepresentation of the internet in the media



Internet culture goes greatly misunderstood by all who don’t inhabit it. I suppose you could say the same about any culture or sub-culture and it is unfair to expect those on the outside to represent properly what they don’t understand. It’s also unfair to say that internet culture is misrepresented more than others are but seeing as I consider myself an active part of it, I am bound to notice. Nonetheless, internet culture is grossly misrepresented by the media and it’s a terrible thing to see something you love being abused. 

People who understand the internet understand where the heart of the internet lies: The forums. The forums, as a combined singular entity, acted as the womb that grew and birthed the social wonder of casual self-deprecation, heartfelt social competition and harmless, yet effective humour borne through insincere or ironic ruthlessness that connects so many people over so vast a space. The forums spawned the quick language that common speech names ‘text-speak’ as well as breathing life into the harsh but hilarious humour that is the chief area affected by misrepresentation. 

Treating the jokes that circulate the internet seriously is akin to treating schoolyard banter seriously: When a child says he’s going to kill another child because that child stuck the first child’s favourite lego up his arse, or some other minor misdemeanour that seems to rile children so much, we don’t imprison the threatening kid under attempted murder; we take it for what it is: Banter. The internet is just the same. For the most part, the threats aren’t real and the ridicule is the same as any other. The only difference is that on the internet, people feel more comfortable and more creative, which greatly widens their expressive outlet potential. 

The origins of this misrepresentation and of the media paying so much attention in the first place lies simply in the relative movements of popular people. You know the ones; they wore make-up all through school and despite getting terrible grades, they saw themselves as the cream of the academic crop due to their flourishing social lives, they coasted on these social lives and grew up (for lack of a better term) into rave-attending, slotted-glasses wearing, vodka shot-puking morons that update their Facebook status every five minutes in an attempt to bore anybody available for a mandatory email update to death by repeatedly informing us all of their sandwich habits, their hapless grasp of language and their overall wastage of potential and space. 

This brings me to the key: Facebook. Or the ‘F’ word, in case the real word leaves a bitter, metallic taste on your tongue as it does on mine. People without an outlet for their geeky, gamey and often controversial ways turned toward the expanding space of the internet. They set up forums, they took and uploaded funny pictures and edited anything they could get their hands on into gems of in-joke humour (as evidenced by so many of our heading pictures, all thanks to the great community of internetland.) 

Then the popular people came. And it was bad. They ignored the forums, they didn’t get the jokes, they took every word as written, they didn’t speak the language, they took our jobs etc. Eventually, there were so many feckless, fingerpointing, popular people around that they needed a place to congregate and that place was Facebook. Facebook is a mere vague facsimile of the internet: The jokes aren’t funny, the people are self-absorbed airheads, the content is chiefly advertising and the effect has been catastrophic. Now, the Facebooking idiots use the internet just like they use other communication devices, which is way beneath the truth. This means they bully over the internet just like they bully over texts, it means they organise real-life events on the internet even though any true follower would know that the real world and the internet world should never meet. 

The news now reports on the internet even though they only pay attention to Facebook and the like (as well as the tiny pockets of the rest of the internet as seen through Facebook’s eyes.) 

I’m not calling for abolishing Facebook. Yet. For now I would be content for the news to shut up about the dark ones, by which I mean the 21-hour-a-day, ass-kicking-dark-elf-flaunting, geniuses of the true internet. That and for Facebook to leave the rest of us alone and eventually disappear into a black hole of its own creation so that the site and everyone on it is crushed into an infinitesimally small singularity of the joint popular virtues of arrogance and stupidity. That’s all I ask.   

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