Please Stop Talking About What 'the Internet' Likes

In fact, 'the Internet' doesn't even exist
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2016 5:40 PM CST
Just because these kids are obsessed with Taylor Swift's new chinchilla Mortimer, doesn't mean "the Internet" is.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Navneet Alang has a simple request: Please stop talking about what the Internet likes. Or what it's obsessed with. Or what it's ruining. Or who it's newest crush is. "Not only does referring to everything online as 'the Internet' mistakenly suggest that the digital is a space separate from the rest of life, but also, more importantly, it implies that the internet is a single sphere that we all share," he writes for New Republic. Alang says the Internet is ingrained in real life, not separate from it, and we need "to be far more careful" when we talk about it. "Beyond the obvious economic and social import of the web, the ongoing harassment and violence users (often women or minorities) are subjected to quickly does away with a mode of thinking that suggests the digital is distinct," he writes.

Furthermore, Alang says when people talk about what the Internet is currently "obsessed with" or "in love with," they're mostly talking about what relatively well-off, English-speaking white users are in to. "Rarely does one see that the Internet is also obsessed with the messaging app WeChat, which has around 600 million users around the world, the Bollywood smash hit Dilwale, or any other of the countless number of trends rocketing around the globe," he writes. Alang says the view of the Internet as a monolithic entity with unanimous likes and dislikes made more sense in the early years of the web, when users were mostly "white, male Star Wars nerds and gamers." So basically, no, Hollywood Reporter, the Internet isn't "obsessed with the Making a Murderer lawyer's 2000s style." Read the full piece here. (Read more Internet stories.)

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