If I made a two column list — what I like and what I don’t like — about the Internet, the like column would probably have around half a dozen, maybe up to ten, entries; the don’t like column would get into the area with lots and lots of zeros.
Here are a few from the hundreds of thousands in the don’t like column, beginning with the one that happens to be most fresh, since encountering it again this morning is what stimulated this post (rant).
Stop presuming you know who I am by where I am.
I live in South America, but I do not speak or understand much Spanish. I have also recently lived in Germany, but I do not speak or understand much German. Although I have never once clicked on an ad on any Internet site, were I inclined to do so, the ads are unintelligible to me anyway, I can’t read them. Also, when I visit blogs and leave a comment, the instructions appear in a language I do not understand, and all the blog notations and headings convert from English, the original language, into Spanish … or whatever language is most commonly spoken in the location where I happen to be using an Internet connection. Just offer a clear and easy to locate choice — what basic language do you prefer?
The positive benefits of being anonymous are rare, and stomped to insignificance by the dangers of it; especially on the Internet. Probably ninety percent of the problems with and dangers of the Internet would be eliminated by eliminating anonymity. Whistle-blowers, little people trying to expose the crimes of big people need anonymity. Nobody else does. Everyone else uses it to cover up something they are ashamed of, or to hide actions that are criminal or immoral. It is the cloak of bullying. For every one benefit to being anonymous, there are fifty dangers. It has always seemed to me that if one isn’t willing to attach one’s name to a statement, comment, or opinion, then the chances are very good that one is stating something dumb, ridiculous, false, or harmful.
Beware the universality.
The Internet has put all its eggs, all of everybody’s eggs, in one flimsy basket. If the bottom falls out, all the eggs break and there’s nothing left. As one of my electronic genius friends has pointed out, just one exceptional and radical burst of sunspot activity (rare, but not unknown) would wipe the Internet slate clean: destroy the money supply, eliminate the data of our lives, knock out virtually all our communications networks, and plunge us back to the 19th century at the speed of light. (At least those of us who read books with print on paper would have something left to occupy our minds.)
There it is.