Monday, December 6, 2010

An observation from a Nigerian tragedy

Apparently Nigerian soldiers have killed civilians.  That, of course, is a tragedy and should be treated as such.  Normally, such an event, tragic though it is, doesn't fall within the scope of my overall emphasis, so I wouldn't post a story like this.  There isn't really a 'down with America', or 'Christianity sucks' or 'the Catholic Church is evil' spin being put on the actual killings. 

But then I just glanced down at the comments.  When I did, I suddenly reflected on the whole 'Internet makes you smarter' spiel that is all the rage nowadays.  If it makes us smarter, then those who have been so elevated must have refrained from commenting on this story.  Look at the comments.  One particular comment jumped out at me.  Sometimes I wonder if, in the anonymous 'say what I would never say face to face' world of the Internet if this fellow is real, or a fellow faking an identity to make a viewpoint he disagrees with look bad:
"Let them fight. Population control. Also less undesirable 3rd world immigrants moving to civilized nations."
The commenter labels himself 'conservative'.  So, is he really?  Does someone really think that?  Or is he trying to make the 'other side' look bad?  If it is just a ploy, then obviously it sheds light on one of the problems of the Internet: the dehumanizing anonymity behind it all.  If not, it sure demonstrates that, no Virginia, the Internet does not make us smarter.  Either way it's food for thought, and perhaps a good enough reason to stop assuming that with the Internet necessarily comes salvation.


  1. The comments are just rediculous. You are correct the internet gives us more information, but does more information do anything for our brains, but overload us with so much that we have to sift through it to find the truth?

  2. I don't know anyone I take seriously who thinks the internet makes us smarter. Granted, that could be because the idea would very quickly makes me stop taking them seriously; I have a hard enough time taking seriously that people should be responsible for learning the truth about the Faith since the truth's all on the 'net now (yes, some people say that; do they forget how much 'net has to be waded through to find it, or do they not realize that it's only after you know the truth that you know its search terms, or what??)... but, I mean, wasn't there a Metal Gear Solid game where the conspiracy theory that is the game's literary conceit was basically that with all the flood of info out there the government not only was actually able to censor people and manipulate the stories and most people would never be able to find out, but considered it their duty because otherwise everyone would be confused? Just change that from active censorship to political tribal pieties and it's got a grain of truth in it, no?

    About the one thing I like about the internet is the possibility of getting Tweets and blogs of first-hand accounts of things instead of going through journalists, which, considering how difficult it would generally be to verify the accuracy of those accounts or even the identities involved, says more about my opinion of journalism at present than anything else (specifically, it says that to be frank most of the time I wonder about them too).

    I quit reading comment sections except on personal blogs long ago, though sometimes I forget, which is usually painful.

  3. Not only is it the internet and it's questionable sources etc but an even larger tragedy has been the 24 hour news. What is out there is really not news it is entertainment, opion, agendas, etc. I watch local news, but it is still so often filled with an entertainment side that it makes it hard to watch for "news". So where do we go to really find out what is going on in the world? Where can we go to learn? HMM Makes you wonder?

  4. I wouldn't want to forget 24 hour news. But I'm thinking of two things when I mock the whole 'Internet makes us smarter' meme. First, those silly commercials in which we are told the Internet makes us smarter. Plus, the emphasis in our public education system that insists we must embrace science and technology above all things - only they can save us. Top among the list of priorities is plugging our students into the Internet, insisting that through this they will be able to become more enlightened and better educated.

    Not that I'm against the Internet mind you. I have a blog for crying out loud! But the idea that it's some philosopher's stone of cognitive expansion is, too me, contradicted by the reality of the Internet and the observable results in our culture.


Let me know your thoughts