Community//

Why the Internet Is Worth Fighting For

It's popular to say the internet is terrible. But we can't give up.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!

JONAH PERETTI, CEO AT BUZZFEED, SAID, “I KNOW IT’S POPULAR TO QUIT SOCIAL MEDIA OR SAY THE INTERNET IS TERRIBLE, BUT WE CAN’T GIVE UP. WE HAVE TO KEEP FIGHTING TO MAKE A GREAT INTERNET.”

It’s hard to create good content. We need to create models to help the good content survive. This requires utopian thinking, the kind of thinking that got the internet invented. The original intent of the web was to enable government, scientific, and military communication. The creators and early users were an oddball mix of freewheeling hippie programmers, digital philosophers, and government folk who wanted to be sure their research money was being spent well.

That money ended up funding civilization’s most powerful communications network, a network that had, and still has, the potential to include everyone. If only we would behave ourselves.

Many of us spend hours online. If you are spending those hours on social media, you experience an internet that has nearly been brought down by bullies, trolls, and trash talkers. Every day, the bad content threatens to smother the good. Here’s Peretti again, from a talk he gave at South By Southwest:

It is much harder to moderate bad content than it is to create good content. No matter how much money the platforms spend, or how many content moderators they hire, this problem won’t be solved by removing bad content, we need an ecosystem where creating good content is sustainable. If tech and media work together, everyone will benefit.

Working together is what the web is good at. It leverages the power of two-way communication. Back before comment spam, people commented on blogs with their genuine opinions. Before Twitter turned toxic, you could have a dialogue, even a group discussion, about anything with people from all over the world. Facebook was never all that nice — after all, it started as a platform to rate how women looked — but even Facebook had an age of innocence long ago.

The thing is, the internet is still bidirectional. You can email me to tell me what you think of this post. Good people are always inventing new platforms. Vero is an alternative to Instagram without the data mining. Mastodon is an alternative to Twitter without the trolls. Postlight Labs just launched Yap, a free platform for private chat that doesn’t record anything, don’t sell your information, and is just there for the good of it. You can try it out for free by visiting https://yap.chat.

And then there’s podcasting. Podcasting is a major force for keeping the internet good. People everywhere are putting out their untold personal stories, delivering deeply-reported news, bringing the crazy, cooking up risky comedy, providing musical wonder, and bringing visions of the future like we do here at FutureX. It’s a carnival. I hope that it stays that way for a long time, even as the big ad dollars are beginning to flow into the ecosystem.

Much of the freedom of the internet is built on things we take for granted. Like RSS. Really Simple Syndication is the unsung tech that keeps podcasting free. You host your show on a platform like Simplecast (that’s what we use). RSS is what sends it out to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Radio Public, and all the rest. RSS, amazingly, is free to use. It’s always been free. I hope it is around forever.

Here’s something else we often take for granted. The internet can be a cold place. It’s up to us to keep it warm. We are the beneficiaries of the most powerful technology any known civilization has ever seen. We have a chance to make good work. Let’s use it to make our best stories, tell our truth, and invent the future in every episode.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

The negative impact of social media on your health

by ava marry
Community//

10 Top Ways To Stay Safe Online

by Nancy Gathecha
Community//

“5 Things We Can Each Do To Make Social Media And The Internet A Kinder And More Tolerant Place” With ​Adina Mahalli

by Yitzi Weiner

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.