Thursday, April 9, 2015

One of the false promises we’ve been made that people keep buying into is that the Internet is a “democratizing” force, that the digital world gives us instant access to the real vox populi, that the simple fact that anyone can leave a comment, or answer a poll, or submit an entry to a contest means that everyone does, and therefore opinion of “the Internet” is everyone’s opinion.

This is obviously false. It’s obviously false for the same reason that crowd-funding randomly decides to give one guy in Ohio hundreds of thousands of dollars for potato salad and why huge blatant hoaxes can stay up on Wikipedia for five years unchallenged, and why random, not-particularly-charismatic people become “celebrities” overnight for no good reason.

It’s obviously false in the way that comments sections actually representing “reader reactions” as opposed to a horrific cesspool of three people shouting racial slurs at each other is false. Everyone who says “Never Read the Comments”–which, these days, is anyone with any sense–is implicitly admitting the promise of Internet democracy has failed.

- Sci-Fi’s Right-Wing Backlash: How a Small Group of Deranged Trolls Can Ruin Any Event