The internet has no downside – but we do

Twenty-five years ago Sir Tim Berners-Lee (as he then wasn’t) invented the worldwide web, and surely its anniversary is custom-made for contemplation.

To be fair, this isn’t in short supply, as every columnist in His creation weighs the pros and cons. Yet most of the comments are one- or at best two-dimensional. The dimension they tend to lack is depth.

To say that the net has its pros and cons is to say nothing. Everything has its pros and cons, and certainly every technological invention in history.

The split atom can both heat our houses or incinerate them. An airplane can whisk people to the other end of the earth in hours – or kill them in seconds. A car can be driven onto the Channel Shuttle at Folkestone or into a crowd of grannies at a zebra crossing.

In that respect the internet is just like any other technological advance. Its pros are self-evident, and no one in his right mind will deny that the net is a marvellous tool, the kind only a bad workman would blame.

What does deserve a comment is the cons, as pointed out by hacks who are terribly confused about cause and effect. Let’s pick some perceived cons off the top.

Children acquire an easy access to pornography.

True. But then pornography has always been available – even in countries with no free press.

In one such country, an older pupil once showed an innocent 12-year-old boy a pack of photos depicting muscular black chaps copulating in various poses with overweight blondes. The boy was fascinated, yet never again sought out any dirty pictures. I had better things to do, like reading, listening to real music and hustling chess.

And had I displayed an unhealthy interest in such material, my sainted mother would have nipped it in the bud – no mercy, no equivocation, no delay.

So why don’t today’s mothers do the same thing? Just take junior’s computer away for a month, see how he likes it. Then give it back to him with the proviso that you’ll censor his viewing preferences and, if they’re objectionable, the next time he’ll have a computer will be when he’s old enough to pay for one.

The thing is that today’s parents can no longer control their tots. Children have absorbed the ambient ethos of rights, and they won’t have theirs taken away. Push comes to shove, they can do more to their parents than the parents can do to them.

For the ambient ethos has the power of the state behind it. Just like Plato’s and Marx’s models, the modern state has a vested interest in supplanting parents as the dominant influence on children’s personalities.

Denying children what others have, be it £150 trainers or high-speed broadband, is now treated as an infringement of the tots’ human rights, something that may lead to a lifelong psychological trauma.

These days no self-respecting child, actually no person of any age, can be without a trauma or two without looking like a pariah. So if a child locks himself in his room and surfs the net to his heart’s content (or other organs’ content), today’s parents are helpless.

And why would such a child watch hard porn rather then read a book (possibly even on Kindle)? Why would he play mindless computer games rather than chess? Why would he listen to oligophrenic pop rather than Bach?

Any comprehensive answer would have to be book-length, but such a book wouldn’t even have a short chapter about the internet. It would, however, have long chapters on the collapse of traditional civilisation and its replacement with our anthropocentric perversion.

A man (or, more to the point, a child) is now seen as merely a sum of his appetites and, if these aren’t instantly gratified, he’s denied his humanity. This is a much worse crime than, say, burglary, and quite on the par with child abuse.

Children and infantilised adults reduce human discourse to incoherent, vowel-less bytes of meaningless information.

This presupposes that, away from their computers, they’re able to communicate with an eloquence to do Diogenes proud. Well, they aren’t.

In fact, the net attracts the elite of our children, those who can express themselves, however badly, in writing. ‘OMG got 2CU’ falls short of the customary epistolary standards of the past, but at least the child knows his ABC. Many don’t.

The state again has a vested interest in educating children to become little savages, completely divorced from our civilisation. Only such people could fail to see through our spivs, thereby keeping them in power.

Our comprehensives are deliberately designed for this purpose, and they’re staffed with ‘educators’ trained and inspired to fail the pupils but not the state. One such, a Headmaster no less, writes in a letter to today’s Times, “For my wife and I the most important thing was…”

He and his ilk are the cause. The virtual world of the internet becomes so irresistible because the real world is run by equivalents of Headmasters ignorant of elementary grammar and paid by the state whose interests they serve so admirably.

The internet is used for ‘grooming’.

Well, properly brought up children won’t be easily groomed with the Internet. And badly brought up children have always been easily groomed without it (witness some of the on-going trials for offences committed 30 years ago.)

To say that the internet is to blame for a paedophile grooming a child is like saying that Burberry macs are responsible for an exhibitionist flashing a child in the street.

The wonderful, liberating ‘60s, still remembered with such touching nostalgia by aging cretins, managed to sexualise society without the benefit of electronic media. The tree was planted then; the internet just crates its fruit.

An so on. Poor workmen blame their tools for their botched-up jobs, poor thinkers blame the internet for our anomic, soulless, dehumanising modernity.

They’d do better to look in the mirror and ask themselves the perennial question: “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eyes, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

Happy birthday, ‘mote’, otherwise known as the internet. None of this is your fault. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.