"I have finally figured out what the internet is for. Since it’s invention, the World Wide Web has disrupted ancient economies, laid waste to tyrants and delivered pornography more efficiently than our forefathers ever dreamed possible.
But all these are really side effects. The real purpose of the internet and how it has really changed civilization is in its ability to give dumb people enough rope to humiliate themselves so we can all mock them and demand their executions.
This has been going on a long time. The internet and Twitter in particular have been laying waste to the careers and reputations of the moronic practically since its inception. This work has of course happened in tandem with the rise of reality television, which created an entire industry based on chronicling (“celebrating”) the words and lives of our most aggressively stupid citizens. The Reality Show villain (stupid + angry people) has practically become our national icon. And via tweets, blogs, gifs, memes, blingees, grams, vines, what have you, ever American was given the tools to mock these stupid people and put them in their place.
What has changed I believe is that there used to be a media that also did other things - reported on wars, or bad weather, or bears caught in pools. But now we don’t have that any more. There is only giving stupid people room to be really stupid, and then mocking them. The olde timey media in its death throes has given up covering other things so now just writes about that. Go ahead - pick up any newspaper; open the politics section, the sports section, the gardening section, all you’ll read is stories about how people have risen up against someone who said something stupid and gotten them fired from their job.
All of which would be well and good if it added up to something. I can live with a media that completely ignores the reality of the world in exchange for covering a facsimile of reality made up of people’s responses to people’s dumb comments if it resulted in a net gain of less stupid things being said. As America’s leading crusader against free speech, I am all for getting people to shut up, wherever and whenever we can do it. And if you’ve been hurt or offended by any of these comments, well that sucks and I don’t deny, that’s not fun.
But can anyone out there look my in the eye and say our decade or so of pretty much round the clock fully mobilized outrage has diminished the supply of stupid things being said? Ten years into America’s War on Dumb People is there actually less dumbness? We seem to be still producing plenty of new stuff for us to get outraged about.
This should be obvious, but is the following formula not irrefutable:
A. God and Media deplore a vacuum.
B. Media now exists to stoke up and record outrage.
C. Media is the center of our contemporary Universe to which all bodies gravitate.
D. If Media needs outrage, those seeking media will supply it, forever.
In retrospect, looking back at the last ten years, would the War on Dumb People perhaps not have been better served if when we encountered someone dumb saying dumb things we just changed the channel, left the comedy club, voted for someone else…and didn’t make that person the center of the Universe by tweeting about them for a media cycle or two, meme’ing them, reporting on them? And just…said not one word about the gruesome idiot and let them slink away?
Maybe, maybe not, but I’m going to give it a try. I resolve next time I encounter a stupid person not to tweet about them, not to write articles about how their whatever is dealing with them, not to make funny pictures of them and post them on my Tumblr.
I know there will be a hole in my life where morons used to live, and I’m willing to admit I will be all the poorer for it. I plan to start punching myself in the face for half an hour every day as a way to ease myself out of that old Twitter high. But scary as it may be, I look forward to a bright future where the stupid thing that someone said is not the center of my life.”