Business Insider’s Tony Manfred is not an idiot. I mean, I’ve never met him. He very well could be an idiot, but it’s a shitty thing to assume without actually meeting him, so I’m not going to do it.
This headline though from Business Insider, “Why Is The Internet So Racist?” is idiotic. But that’s kind of the point. I clicked on it. We’re talking about it. I’m sure a lot of other people will do the same.
The Internet isn’t racist. The Internet is a tool. It doesn’t have thoughts of its own (as far as we’re aware), and what people choose to do with it is on them, not the platform they use.
Why are people more adamant about saying stupid (re: racist and otherwise insensitive things) using the Internet?
The article goes on to list a few ideas, but ultimately it’s describing symptoms of a disease and not the disease itself.
Anonymity? No. No one is really ever anonymous on the Web. It’s too easy to find out who someone is if you put the smallest bit of effort into it, and my Generation seems to be totally ok with giving our information away freely, so it ain’t that.
(That’s not to say that it’s not a factor, but it’s not THE factor.)
Getting attention for yourself? Sure. But the article suggests saying stupid shit is a great way to get attention for yourself, which is why people do it on the Internet. But it’s equally true no matter where you say stupid shit. You can’t attribute that to being an Internet only phenomenon.
(Not to mention: It’s almost impossible to get yourself attention on the Internet unless you’re a celebrity, know someone who is, or have the backing of the media, so let’s put a stop to that shit right there about getting attention for yourself when what’s really being said is “making yourself famous”. It ain’t happening.)
Groupthink? Yeah. That’s better. Internet Lynch Mobs (probably not the most appropriate name given that we’re talking about racism …) are a known phenomenon. They can form on Twitter, but they’re more frequently observed on places like Reddit and 4Chan’s /b when someone gets butthurt about something.
See: Gilsey, Maya
There’s actually another reason why stuff like this happens, and no where is it mentioned in the article (which, as you might have guessed, I ain’t linking to. Fuck them.)
When we’re talking about platforms on the Internet and different web communities that form around websites and other destinations, you have to remember the 1% Rule.
Basically, 1% of the members of that community, or that platform’s users, do the bulk of the talking. It’s no coincidence then that a majority of tweets generated on Twitter come from less than 25% of the actual population of ACTIVE Twitter users. (When you factor in the total number of registered accounts, or adjust the number of active Twitter users based on their location, it’s much closer to 1% than it is 25%).
That 1%, as you might have guessed, is usually on the extreme side. This is why you see people write racist shit on the Internet and then see other people agree with them. It’s not representative of the Internet, and groupthink is just a natural occurrence within this extreme minority.
So what you see when people tweet / post racist shit isn’t reflective of the Internet or the large population of people who consume and comment on things they encounter on the Internet. It’s an extreme minority of dipshits who are making the rest of us look bad and allow outlets like Business Insider to infer stupid things in their headlines to generate clicks