Recently the politics of fear have been directed towards the internet. It may have been by design or simply the result of flawed thinking, but whatever it is, the result is clear. By deliberately demonizing everything to do with the net, critics suggest in broad strokes that the internet is nothing more than predation, the devil incarnate – it’s a claim that, by highlighting the obvious, doesn’t take much imagination to shore up: the moral turpitude of porn, falsities in conspiracy theories, visceral posts from racists and a handful of cases involving deceit, not to mention the internet’s nature as “feral” or a “free for all.” It’s a scene that suggests we are all suddenly going to sink inexorably into a moral cesspit.
To suggest sex fiends, confidence tricksters, conspiracy theorists and hucksters exist in the internet is certainly a palpable truth – to even suggest that these elements constitute a threat to the young and will ultimately confuse, mislead and even prey on the unsuspecting is probable. But arguments which neither consider the good currency of the internet nor attempt to draw out a trade off or even cost/benefit calculation of the internet are nonsensical. Read the rest of this entry »