In the book ‘The Long Tail’, published in 2008, Chris Anderson argued that because of the internet we would be unrestricted in our choice of media, entertainment and even company.
Isn’t it odd how the facile notion that endless options equal nirvana has such a hold on simple minds?
Six years on we can judge, with greater knowledge, the mixed effects of the internet age.
The case for the prosecution is powerful. Evidence suggests that, though undeniably a means of facilitating easier communication, the internet impoverishes our culture by too often vulgarising the subjects of common discourse; rather than spicing the variety of life, as so many hoped it would, it has more often aided the triumph of deadening ubiquity and a downward journey to the lowest common denominator.
Technology which promised to bring us closer together has more frequently kept us apart. Take online shopping – Amazon, perhaps the worst culprit, has launched an assault on high street bookshops with the chief victims being idiosyncratic independent retailers.
Thank goodness for shops like Spalding’s Bookmark which are holding the line for all that is charmingly particular and elevated.
Worse still, the internet nurtures the dangerous illusion of anonymity. From behind the safety of locked doors, some people believe they are entitled to make hateful comments and idle threats – of the kind that would never be tolerated by the responsible, local printed press – free from reprisals.
Internet abuse is a form of bullying, inflicting misery on its victims and their families, which is why the government is changing the law to get tough on these so-called internet trolls.
These online cowards who target others with abuse and offensive material will face up to two years in prison. The police will get more time to investigate cases of online abuse, extending greater protection to the victims of this internet crime.
By cheapening and trivialising our national conversation, the internet has greatly strengthened those voices that put comment above consideration, judgement above due process and, ultimately cruelty above compassion.
It’s time the internet trolls were turned to stone by the pure light of truth.