As I sit down to properly type out a first post to our website, I have noticed that the trend du jour on Facebook is to shame and finger-wag at those who have taken to Twitter to make fun of President Trump’s son Barron. The posters are all confused and even mystified that someone would “attack” the underage child of our new President. Honestly, I’m mystified that you’re mystified.
There are a lot of latecomers to the internet party, so let me illustrate something for you in certain terms. The internet is not a place for civility. Yes it can exist, and one should seek out such places while online. But by its very nature, it’s not a place where you can expect to be treated with respect.
I suppose that for many of you the concept of anonymity online is foreign. You take your news from Facebook of all places, where you are expected to be who you say you are. Sure, there are a few “funny” pseudonyms (God, for example), who post whatever they want for laughs. But really isn’t social media 2.75163 about really representing yourself, pushing your “personal brand” online? Ah, I’m dating myself even now with an archaic term. Despite this, the internet is still wholly an anonymous place. As it should be, right? On the one hand people want their freedoms, and on the other many don’t. Some what to be free to say what they want without another finding their address and bashing their skulls in with a tire iron. Some people want the option.
Which leads me to a further point: the internet really isn’t a place for children. Yes, it represents an opportunity for great learning for children, but as it stands right now it’s really not a safe or healthy place for it at all. And I don’t mean just little Jimmy grade-schooler who just wanted to learn about bugs for his class project, only to discover a video of someone pushing a beetle into their urethra. Doubt that this exists? Google it, I dare you. It’s really, at the most generous, not a place for anyone under the age of eighteen. And yet we as a society have let it go so far that kids from all ages and walks of life have it, unrestrained, at their fingertips.
We let them because it’s easy. It’s easy to give them smartphones and tablets to keep them entertained, but when we’re not looking they’re looking up beetle fetish videos. Or worse still, the parents are oblivious to what they should be hearing in their general vicinity. At a recent family gathering I passed by a gaggle of grade-schoolers (that’s the right term, yes? Gaggle?) listening to a rap video with lyrics that I can’t imagine their parents would have wanted them to hear. Unless you’re the type of person who is fine with your kids calling women “bitches”.
Let’s face it, it’s hard to allow the internet and keep our kids out of stuff we’re not ready for them to see. It’s hard to avoid people acting like jerks on the internet. So what’s to be done? Well, my armchair prediction is that we embrace Tor, and let the surface web be anonymous no longer. Let the people who want to use the internet for wholesome endeavors be forced to use their real names and information, and let those who want to be anonymous take their talk to a place where at least someone has to be clever enough to configure a program and a web browser.
Don’t know what Tor is? Look it up, you lazy fuck.