You Got Burned

The job of researching online extremism is both remarkably easy and brutally hard. It’s easy because, let’s face it, there’s no shortage of material. And it’s brutal because, let’s face it, there’s no shortage of material. These days, there’s nothing less surprising than the fact that the internet is drowning in an un-drainable cesspool of vicious animosity. But the fact that this is the way the internet evolved is quite depressing for those who have been clicking around this place since the early days. From Wired: The Existential Crisis Plaguing Online Extremism Researchers. “The past decade has been an exercise in dystopian comeuppance to the utopian discourse of the ’90s and ‘00s. Consider Gamergate, the Internet Research Agency, fake news, the internet-fueled rise of the so-called alt-right, Pizzagate, QAnon, Elsagate and the ongoing horrors of kids YouTube, Facebook’s role in fanning the flames of genocide, Cambridge Analytica, and so much more. ‘In many ways, I think it [the malaise] is a bit about us being let down by something that many of us really truly believed in.'”

+ The Atlantic’s Julie Beck talks to The Moms Who Were Extremely Online in 1993. “Anytime somebody in the group was going through something, somebody got something going for them. Just to show them: You’re not alone. It was huge to me at a time when I was sick. It stays with you forever, when people treat you like that.” (That early spirit of the internet is still there. It’s just harder to find, and a lot harder to maintain.)

Copied to Clipboard