Since its introduction in 1994, world wide web and technology has reshaped a great portion of our daily lives, depending on how connected you are. If are not connected then you will perhaps live a normal regular life, with its trappings of having to actually open your mouth to speak to people; saying good morning, and hello or perhaps even a ‘how are you’ and if you are lucky…a conversation. You perhaps, may even be able to enjoy social events, like a party, on the condition that only a third of the patrons are ‘connected’. In a very short space of time, the internet has changed our lives significantly. Being an 80’s baby, I recall the apprehension from many Jamaicans about the world wide web, I laughed at a few of the rastafarians and other weirdos (with which I spent a lot of my time, listening to and questioning), as they warned about being caught in the big spider’s web of control (a play on the world wide web). I see I am perhaps a weirdo myself, as even though I laughed then, I can’t help but admit that 18 years later, the world wide web is not a simple www. but an actual web…and RIM is not simply a software but actually Research in Motion. Being fully aware that my extremist saggitarian nature allows me to conjure up conspiracy theories which I can justify to the end of time, I am cautious about sharing my thoughts with others.
The world wide web is an open space for information that need not be verified to be truth before it is shared, facilitating a creation of truth based simply on the amount of hits or likes an issue gets, in essence based on popularity. Orson Welles is quoted as saying ‘if it would depend on popularity, then Donald Duck and The Muppets would take seats in the senate’. I would like to tell Orson, that his premonition is real, we have Donald Ducks and The Muppets all over doing hat tricks for retweets, FB posts and shares and yes…the applause of popularity.
Like nuclear energy, open space for information and insatiable crave for popularity void of true purpose or cause, can be very dangerous in the wrong hands or even idle hands, and dependent on how many people are ‘connected’ the dangers can be world wide in mere seconds, and lasting only minutes until a new trending topic or issue emerges. For potential impact, speed and effectiveness, I can’t help but give a conditional ‘A’ to the importance of the internet and social media in social activism and change efforts. Do you think the Maroon rebellions against slavery would have been as effective in the 21st century, with twitter and facebook…or would we just like and retweet but ignore the message to meet in the ravine or the cock pit to manually facilitate change? Is it that there is no longer a need to ‘manually’ do anything in this ‘digital’ age. Whilst we are tweeting, facebooking and bbm-ing…who is actually doing and what are they doing?
Aesop said ‘when all is said and done, more is said than done. With less being done, and more being said for motivations of popularity, likes and retweets, we are regressing, gains made in the past by activists who actually acted, are being eroded, apathy has been allowed to settle in the furtive minds of our energetic and passionate young. I have to wonder if this is just part of the grand plan by the controller of the world wide web, the big spider.