The internet - and for me in particular, Facebook (I have never been a website 'forum' kind of person) - has created a new and unpleasant kind of interaction. Most of us will have experienced - as I have again today - an online conversation wherein disagreement lurches from a polite exchange of opinions straight into abusive name-calling. I have three internal responses to such behaviour. The first, if I'm honest, is an unevolved rush of adrenalin and a desire to rip something - perhaps a telephone directory in half, or more likely, a head from a pair of shoulders. The second response, arriving on the heels of the first, is a need for sardonic laughter, driven by the thought of the person responsible for abusing me having the opportunity to repeat what they have typed - verbally, and three feet from my face. There would, you see, be consequences which I am sure we would both wish to avoid in the real world. The third internal response I experience is a feeling of sadness; an emerging generation has a hill to climb.
Perhaps I'm wrong; it may be a mountain. The new humans - at least those with easy access to technology - are losing their resilience. They're losing any toughness that has been built up over centuries of privation, of war, of suffering and hardship. Those negatives still exist for billions, of course, but the society I live in seems to be developing - I'd say 'devolving', but I don't see how humanity would still be here if we'd ever been like this during our evolutionary journey - into an increasingly whiney, plaintive and frankly feeble mass of pathetic arseholes. Yes, there are people out there with brutal, unacceptable and bizarre perspectives upon the world which need to be kept where they belong (on the fringes), but these days we seem to be overrun by a groundswell of the 'OMG' generation, where almost anything can be shocking, weird, upsetting, offensive and worst of all: gross.
An entire generation seems to be turning into 'The Overwhelmed', at a time when, ironically, life in western society has never been more easy. Children - our most impressionable companions - are brainwashed by schools to perceive their academic career as difficult and impossibly stressful and encouraged by politicized teachers to feel pressurized. There is talk in our media today of school pupils in our area experiencing the 'anxiety' of returning to school. Please. Emotionally dumbing down to the level of our society's least resilient will have the effect of weakening emotional strength throughout our society. Even mild discomfort is to be avoided at all costs, as if it were some insurmountable horror. Modern, techno-cossetted humans are becoming emotional cripples, and they love it.
The internet has created a world for the west in particular (no I'm not excluding you, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) where an expression of shock or fear or being 'grossed out' is desirable because it garners attention. Drama is the thing: being a victim is the thing to be - and running a close second is being the person with the most politically correct outraged response. There are no longer any consequences for stupid reactions to everyday events. Drama wins out in the media and on social media. Overreacting rules.
At a personal level we have the internet morons (Homo Internetiens) who speak without any fear of having to back up their insults or of facing any meaningful consequences for doing so. The recent Pokémon GO craze must have created a few worrying moments for such people, I suspect. They are life's failures, and in an earlier time, they would have never had a public voice with which to cause other people discomfort. On a macro scale, however, our access to instant global communication threatens to transform a large section of society into frightened, easily disrupted quivering lumps of perceived suffering, muttering "Oh my God" repeatedly to themselves as they rock backwards and forwards on their (unexpectedly delayed) train seat. Such people are feeble, of course, until a voice in the wilderness pipes up to disagree - and then watch the previously 'freaked out' mob immediately descend en masse (strength in numbers, you see: it precludes any need for reasoned argument or critical thinking) upon the lone victim in order to silence him or her. Homo Internetiens will conquer all before more resilient humans (familiar and entirely comfortable with the concept of just getting on with life and making stuff happen) from less wealthy societies arrive to kick the snot out of them.
It's a worry. I'm buying an island and a shotgun - or maybe just a scary clown mask will do the job?