Timothy Miller

Broken but beautiful

Welcome to the internet, 2019. Buying something you can’t afford, and borrowing from organizations that don’t have your (or your customers’) best interest at heart, is the business plan of most internet startups. It’s why our digital services and social networks in 2019 are a garbage fire of lies, distortions, hate speech, tribalism, privacy violations, snake oil, dangerous idiocy, deflected responsibility, and whole new categories of unpunished ethical breaches and crimes.

— Jeffrey Zeldman, A List Apart

It’s no secret that the internet is broken.

We live in a world that is ever shifting and changing, a world where big corporations have direct access to as much information as they could possibly want on our personal lives.

We live in a world where every one of us is meticulously analyzed all day, every day, by people much smarter than we are.

Our locations are tracked as often as we're carrying our phones. Even if we aren't carrying our phones, we probably spend the majority of our time outside our homes on camera.

Our use of tools and applications is tracked, our work is tracked, and our recreational time is definitely tracked.

Our purchases are certainly tracked. Our credit card transactions are bought and sold like candy.

Google has at least 10GB of data on you, they could probably tell a prospective date more about you than your own mother. You may not want your mother to know what Google knows about you.

Facebook is always working to get more and more data from you, which is why Apple recently revoked their developer license, because they were stealing too much data from their users. This is really just a slap on the wrist though, Apple can't fight Facebook anymore than the rest of us can: Facebook certainly won't change their behaviour just to appease Apple, and Apple won't fully remove them from their platform.

Things look pretty dark when the lights are off

One more problem with the internet: it is incredibly easy to find articles exactly like this one. Articles that make the internet into the bad guy, and complain about all the problems without offering any solutions.

Talk is cheap. Complaining is easy.

Many of the complaints about the internet are true. It is not, and never will be, a perfect utopia where all humankind will be treated equally and fairly. But to be fair, such a utopia has never existed in this world.

The internet doesn't cause problems, it is simply a giant magnifying glass for the same problems that have existed for centuries.

Humans lie. Humans cheat. Humans are greedy, selfish, and cruel. We all know this instinctively, we have all been subject (or subjected others) to this type of treatment. It happens. It's part of the human experience. It isn't a good thing, but neither is it a “bug”, a problem with the internet that smart people can fix.

The internet does not change our behavior, nor do Facebook and Google have any information on you that you didn't freely provide to them. If you lie and cheat, then the internet will certainly remember, but the memory of that event isn't the problem.

Is a long memory a bad thing?

The biggest problem with the internet is that nothing is ever forgotten.

Never has it been so easy to catch you in your lies, to pull back the covers and reveal the true you, hiding barely below the surface.

The solution to the problem of the internet is simple, and yet difficult. It's the same solution that humans have been working on for centuries, with little success. We can not wait for a government or a company to “fix” the internet, because no government or company to date has managed to fix the human soul.

The solution starts with you, and ends with you. The internet is a reflection of all of us. Stop tarnishing that reflection.

Stop sabotaging yourself.
Be kind, and treat others with empathy.
Time is precious—don't waste it.
Fighting is a last resort.
You don't know everything, but then again, neither does anyone else.
Rebuke only to protect others.
Treat others with respect and dignity.
Focus on making yourself into a person you can be proud of.
Stop sabotaging yourself.

Let’s make the internet better, together.

To sit home, read one's favorite paper, and scoff at the misdeeds of the men who do things is easy, but it is markedly ineffective. It is what evil men count upon the good men doing.

-Teddy Roosevelt

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