One of the great things about the Internet is how everybody gets a voice. It’s also one of the worst things about the Internet, especially when the voice is loud and obnoxious and, worst of all, misleading.
Yes, misleading. One of the biggest issues with people who yak on blogs, comment sections, or message boards is that they almost never represent a true majority opinion. Statistics-wise, virtually no one blabs on the Internet beyond Facebook posts about their kids or sandwiches. And when they read something, they tend to read it and quietly move on to porn or Candy Crush or possibly Candy Crush porn (it’s coming, trust us.)
This leaves the small number actual commenters to dominate the conversation, creating the illusion that what they enjoy is what most people enjoy. Can 200 people, or even 2000 or 20000 people really be wrong?
Yes. They very much can.
Is God dead? As far as the Internet is concerned, He might as well be. Admitting you believe in God online – any god will do in this case – is risking a smorgasbord of attackers, all eager to bring your archaic, ignorant beliefs crashing down to Earth through the power of sheer logic. That logic? “Well, God doesn’t exist. Because that’s a silly dum-dum idea. So there!”
Even moreso than agnosticism, the atheist movement has come to dominate the Internet, thanks to an overly-simplistic “science rules, Jesus drools” message being spread throughout social media. Yes, science is wonderful and teaches us a ton about ourselves and the world around us. But how is worshipping Neil DeGrasse Tyson and thumbing your nose at Jesus any sillier or less childish than someone doing the opposite?
“This guy does science, right? So he’s cool, right? OK, just checking.”
Then you have Reddit. Oh God, do you ever have Reddit. The exceedingly-popular stuff-sharing website has loud, boisterous atheists by the bucketload, who take every opportunity to proclaim how they do not subscribe to the God Machine. The official atheist subreddit has over 2 million subscribers; even the official athiest subreddit (described as “atheism for bad spellers”) has over a thousand readers. That’s a pretty decent army right?
Sure, except that’s pretty much all you get. A recent nationwide poll entitled “The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism” asked subjects to identify themselves as religious, not religious, or atheist. Five percent said they were atheist. That’s far less than the at-least-50% that you might expect after a couple days of wading through countless Internet commenters and Reddit squawkers.
Given that the US population is 319 million roughly, we’re looking at 16 million atheists. That could definitely fill up a few football stadiums, but the 60% of those who identify as religious could fill up far more, to the tune of about 192 million people. If you add in the rest of the world, the yay-religion to boo-religion ratio is likely even more drastically unbalanced.
And if we start using Major League Soccer analogies, it becomes unbalanced to INFINITY.
Simply put, the average person walking down the street, or picking out fruit in the grocery store, is very likely to believe that Jesus loves them because the Bible tells them so. And even if they don’t, they’re still not terribly likely to have actively declared that God does not exist because George Carlin told them so.
4. Crappy Entertainment
The rise of the Internet has given birth to a new genre of entertainment: crappy crap that we know is crap. Few things make the Internet happier than watching a badly acted, horribly written, unproduced piece of garbage that the creator’s own mother would make excuses to not watch.
Oh, they don’t like the film/show/album/whatever; they’re plainly awful to everyone but their writer, and even they need a few drinks to get through it to the end. They enjoy laughing at it, picking on it, mock-suffering through it, creating drinking games around the most repetitive parts, and generally being bullies about the whole thing.
Take 2 shots when you realize you could turn this drivel off and still drink just as much.
With the exception of the occasional countercultural hippie embrace, horrible entertainment is classically ignored by the masses, left to die a quiet, lonely death. And here’s the kicker: it still is. The loud minority of the Internet has lied to you again.
If you don’t believe us, go to the local pub and ask some random dudes if they want to hang out and watch a horrible movie that everybody already knows is horrible. Wayne’s World 2, Star Wars 1, Battlefield Earth (if you’re truly brave) – suggest whatever you like, as long as it’s famously bad. Will they laugh knowingly and happily accept your invitation? Probably not. They’ll more likely tell you to go screw, because that’s a horrible way to spend an evening. Come back when you start watching good movies, they’ll say. And they’d be right.
“This movie’s how long and not one tired cliché is sloppily delivered in a drunken slur? BO-RING.”
Web series devoted to mocking cruddy entertainment, such as Nostalgia Critic, are certainly funny and all, but they’ve never approached the viewership of even the worst TV shows. The Voice recently pulled in a 3.2 rating, one of their lowest ever and a sign the show is slipping. You know how many people were watching to amass that 3.2 rating? Over three and a half million. And that’s not counting the people who don’t have their viewing habits recorded by Nielsen.
If shows like the Critic could pull in 3.5 million hits a week, their hearts would explode out of sheer happiness. But it doesn’t happen; why? Because only a few people care. Luckily, they care a lot. And are more than happy to tell you all about it.
3. Pro Wrestling
It’s not that pro wrestling isn’t popular offline; it’s a multi-million dollar industry after all, and WrestleMania regularly convinces 80,000 people to cram their asses into a football stadium to watch tiny specks of dust run around a ring the size of a thumbnail.
“I’m pulling for the dot on the left; he’s got gusto.”
However, its popularity isn’t even close to what it once was, when Hulk Hogan (and later The Rock) was King of Steroid Mountain. Not that you would know this by browsing the Internet. Based on the endless arguments and debates and analysis you find, you’d think wrestling was on par with the NFL.
It’s not. But wrestling fans are a hell of a lot louder on the Internet than your average football guy. If you took a hundred football fans and asked which ones actively post online about this coaching move or that Tim Tebow signing, you’ll probably end up with five or six people. Ten at the most.
Wrestling fans? You’d probably end up with 20 or 30 heads at least. These heads even have a name – the Internet Wrestling Community. It’s not an organized club with handshakes and membership dues, but do you ever hear about an Internet Hockey Community? Or an Internet Shuffleboard Committee? Hell no, because most fans of those sports simply watch the games and keep their mouths shut about it.
Though usually it’s because no one will talk to them in the first place.
There’s a reason an Internet Wrestling Community exists; wrestling isn’t cool. Every so often it is, but then the one or two mainstream stars get old and move on, and it becomes uncool again. The remaining fans are largely outcasts, hardcore fans of something people barely cared about before, and who now care even less.
So the idea of sitting alone behind a computer, talking to other outcasts about something none of their friends bother with, is incredibly appetizing to them. Internet discussions were tailor-made for long-time wrestling fans with nobody around them to talk to.
Just don’t get the idea that all this online wrestle talk means that WWE’s popularity is on par with baseball now. It’s not. Except in Miami, where maybe ten people give a crap about the Marlins on a good day. Wrestling probably outdraws that. Probably.
2. Voting For A Third-Party Candidate
And who to replace them? Why, third parties of course. Because America needs a choice, dammit! They need to be able to learn about every viable candidate, not just the two that Big Media force-feeds them. Even if that means 35 people are stuffed onto a podium and left to blab over one another for 90 minutes, that’s what we must do. The truth is loud enough to rise above the lies of the other 34 jokers, and by gum it deserves your vote!
They’d be taken more seriously if they actually dressed for the occasion.
Or not. For all the talk that Internet pundits toss out there, you’d think these candidates would be garnering at least half the votes. Nope; they’re lucky to get half a percent of the votes. In 2008, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr managed 523,715 votes, good enough for .4% of the total. And that earned him FOURTH PLACE (Ralph Nader finished third, if you care.) His 2012 successor, Gary Johnson, cracked 1.2 million votes and placed third, and that still wasn’t enough for 1%.
Just tell yourself it’s like a bronze medal, and ignore that nobody gives a rip about bronze medals.
Part of the confusion appears to be that 30% of us are registered as “independent voters.” You’d be forgiven for thinking that means actually voting independently. But it’s not; it simply means we’re not a card-carrying member of ether party. When it comes time to put on actual pants and hit the voting booth, we almost always choose a Republican or Democrat, just like everybody else.
And then we bitch about the winner on Twitter and 4Chan, calling for change and a revolution once again. It’s basically the saddest Circle Of Life in the history of circles of lives.
1. Crackpot Conspiracy Theories
Obviously, the idea of a conspiracy theory isn’t exclusive to the Internet – how many people still think the government, despite all the evidence and explanations otherwise, worked together to shoot JFK full of holes? But they’ve found a new home on the Net, especially the more, erm, esoteric ones.
Simply put, spend a couple hours scouring social media, and you’re bound to see that, apparently, everything is a conspiracy. EVERYTHING. Somebody lost an election? The government conspired to keep them out of office. Controversial figure gets arrested? The Man set them up to shut them up. Terrorist figure is captured or killed? It’s an imposter and the military knows it. Civilian shootings or bombings leave dozens and possibly hundreds of innocents dead? The pro/anti-whatever lobby planned it, to get their agendas pushed through at mach-speed.
Honestly, we’re shocked that nobody has claimed billions of cicadas have awoken from their 17-year slumber not because of nature, but because the Secret Shadow Government wants us to be distracted while they take all our guns away.The pro-icky bug lobby is a powerful one indeed.
According to these keyboard criers, nothing ever happens, and nobody ever gets hurt or dies, unless the government or military allows it. Yet curiously, the number of people that spew this rhetoric in public is practically nil. Either the government is using silencers on us when we go offline, or most everyone sees these ideas for what they are: pure hokum.
As romantic as a world awash with conspiracies might be, the truth is that the average government or military agent is barely competent enough to remember what their own job is, never mind perform it well. The idea that these guys could orchestrate a shadowy Hollywood-style conspiracy is beyond ludicrous.
George Bush planned 9/11 as an excuse to go to war? The man could barely eat snack food without risking his own life, and we’re supposed to believe that he could set up the ultimate con job, murdering thousands and keeping untold an ungodly amount of politicians dutifully quiet, upwards of 12 years later?
“The War On Snackwells is a long and difficult campaign, but we shall prevail.”
Online, everybody in charge is a secret supervillain, and it’s up to the ReddAnonymous TwitterBookers to expose the truth. Offline, if you ask 100 Food Lion shoppers what they think about the latest school shooting that the government made up for an excuse to ban assault weapons, be prepared to get the living crap beaten out of you 100 times over.