Video :: The Worst Observation in Internet History

The thing that makes this video so sad is that the Internet really was like that (in many places, but not all) back in 1993 when that original documentary was made. When asked about how people get along and how people who are completely anonymous communicate on the Internet, John Allen (seen and heard speaking in the video) explains how tightly knit the communities on the early Internet were and how they were largely polite, open, and civil, with some being insular, but nothing horribly profane or hateful.

As hilarious as the video is, especially when we start to hear Allen’s words overlaid with imagery that brings us forward to the modern Internet (thanks, YouTube,) it’s also really sad to see how far that high-level of communication has fallen. You can blame it on any factor you like: claim that as Internet access spread, less educated and well written or literate people came online. You can claim that more people + anonymity generally leads to what we see today. You can claim that in the early days of the Internet, people were overall less anonymous, and less concerned with privacy since the mechanisms of commercializing your personal and private information weren’t in motion yet.

However you want to tag it, one thing is for sure – when you blame the Internet for the death of civil discourse, remember that the Internet wasn’t the cause, it was just the road we took to get here.

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