When I first started using the using the Internet it wasn’t this wild humungous come one come all free for all Fight Club…. Well ok it was, it had the potential to be that but for some reason it wasn’t. it was self-governed and we loved each other and things were great. It was for the most part a technological love-in. Of course, there were the people who wanted to spike your drink with the brown acid and give you a bad trip by infecting your computer with a virus just because you wanted to see a picture of Alicia Silverstone in a bikini (not a personal story!!!).
To go a little more micro about the Internet of the period, there was a chat programme called Virtual Places that I was heavily into. It’s where I met my wife and it’s where I woke my passion for writing and started on a path to digital art work which has lead me to iPhoneography. Virtual Places was (as far as I am aware) one of a kind. It was run by Excite (now just a news portal forgotten by time) and if you can believe this in an era that is driven by the almighty pound, dollar and yen, there were no Ads and the service was absolutely free. You weren’t pushed to sign up for marketing emails all you had to do was have a valid email address and be able to type. It’s not the greatest security, as you can imagine, but hey, it was the late 90’s.
The ecosystem of Virtual Places was pretty much self-governance. There was a small band of floating Moderators that were on hand if something major needed sorting out or if an event needed to be moderated or facilitated, but on the whole, it was a wild west where people were treated as adults and adults behaved as such. The only times things really got out of hand was school holidays. The adult regulars always dreaded those times as we all knew that things would become disrupted during the holidays as the kids would be out in force, but then again, adults were adults and they take care of kids’ day in day out and problems can be solved.
That however was almost 15 years ago and Virtual Places as it was then is long gone and is blowing in the wind.
Today we have so many Social Media outlets and kids have 24/7 access to them. Even the adults don’t respect each other anymore. In fact, it seems that respect is the one that is blowing in the wind.
According to the Justice Department the Government are going to place an amendment into the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill currently going through Parliament. This amendment will quadruple the POSSIBLE length of the sentence of an Internet Cyber Abuser (Worse Case Scenario). Now believe it or not this amendment is being dubbed “Chloe’s Law” so named after Chloe Madeley, Daughter of Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan. Obviously I deplore any abusive tweets sent to Ms Madeley, but and this is a big, but, why is this law being named after her? Why has this amendment taken so bloody long to be introduced? Why wasn’t this introduced when Stella Creasy and Caroline Cirado-Perez were being pilloried all over social media by that knuckle dragging idiot Peter Nunn? It is in my opinion fundamentally wrong for the Government of the day to jump on the latest case of Twitter abuse and then hang their Super Hero cape on it and say “Here We Come to Save the Day!!!”
All I say to that is… too little Too late. Come back when you force the bill through just as you did with DRIP.
The state of the Internet today is shocking. There really is no way that I can see to fix it without turning it off and starting the whole damn thing again. A True Alt-Ctrl-Del its ass all the way back to Tim Berners Lee kitchen table. I swear if that was actually possible whilst keeping the hardware technology we have today, I would vote for it in a New York minute.
There other options though that would (in my opinion) help the situation.
The least popular being Real Names in all online discussion. If you want to spout your mouth off, use your real name. Simple as that. If you have something to say to someone, good bad or ugly then have the guts to say it with your own name behind your comments. It is the only honourable thing to do.
A similar option would be to use a centralised login system. Disqus offer this service. You can log in to the Disqus service to comment on websites and blogs using your Facebook and Twitter accounts. I offer the option that if you combine my last option with an option like Disqus then you would only have to have a one click option for each comment system and BOOM you are ready to go. OK the problem would be is to get a one service fits all, but there are plenty of Devs out there who could get this done.
These are just two options, I am sure there are more if I had the time to really think on the subject.
Whilst anonymity has its place online in certain areas, that place is not commenting. In this day and age people have to be concerned with their digital footprint. There has to be awareness that what is said and done online WILL have an effect on what happens in their life, more accountability should be made now. This is my Internet and I want to start taking it back from the lowest common denominators, from the people who would drag it down to the gutter and below. I want to snatch back what was once a place that fostered the possibilities of anything was possible for everyone and you could have the freedom to say or do whatever you want without the fear of being abused and attacked. Where Sexual Orientation, Gender or Religion doesn’t matter. Maybe the tipping point has come and gone and I am too late in my musings.
This is just my view. I don’t have all the answers yet, but this is the start to my dialogue, this is the start to what I am thinking.
Until next time…