You shouldn’t be here really. You should be on social media. Imagine what you’re missing.
Perhaps there’s a vital petition for you to sign so you can prevent the extinction of the pangolin without leaving your bed. Maybe a close friend of yours got engaged, the bitch. If you’re lucky there might be a link to a video that’ll explain how to improve your life in some small yet meaningful way.
By ending it, for example.
I know nothing about Molly Russell but I’m sure she was a lovely young lady. You’ll recall this was the schoolgirl who found she had access to a million nasty videos via social media, many of them exhorting her to kill herself, which she then did in 2017.
She’s not here to explain why she decided she’d had enough, leaving a gaping hole for her family and every jabbering idiot to fill with theories of death by website. Were she here, she might explain that she had myriad problems, some perhaps related to teenage angst and some maybe more serious and personal to her circumstances. Yes, she might say she was nudged towards action by Clive, a 53-year-old ‘influencer’ living with his mother who tossed off a Facebook comment lauding razors in the bathtub between rounds of Fortnite. But would she say Clive actually made her do it?
We can’t say, though that doesn’t stop people trying. It now emerges that what we all thought of as a playground for the open mind is in fact the place where consciences go to die. The internet is filled with appalling material created by the type of savages we’d incarcerate if they said out loud the shite they spout online. They tell us to do monstrous things. And we’ll do them, don’t think that we won’t. The internet told us to.
I fancy smashing up an Aldi later, liberating a few Fray Bentos and something called an Indoor Boredom Box. I fancy smashing up an Audi later, maybe helping a few men in masks upend it to see if there are any climate change deniers cowering beneath. I’ll do these things because I saw videos on the internet telling me to. And what the internet tells me to do I damn well do, because when it comes to the unregulated hell of the world wide web, nobody’s forced me to exhibit any kind of personal responsibility and I’m free to blame absolutely anyone but me for what I do.
So now regulation is coming. Obviously I’m some kind of socialist so I have no time for ‘tech giants’. Their claims of social responsibility flounder on a simple premise. If a company has two choices, one that does good for society and makes them X dollars, or another that does good, but less good, and makes them X+1 dollars, which will they choose, every single time?
But the idea that Youtube should be responsible for what you watch is no different to pounding your fists on the wall of the Odeon on the way out of a Gerard Butler movie. You don’t have to watch a goddamn thing online, you really don’t. Don’t click that search result if you think it might harm you somehow. If something comes on that you weren’t expecting and you start to feel unwell just turn the fucking thing off. If someone Snapchats you a collage of nooses or a college of nonces, it’s not mandatory for you to dangle or go paedo.
But what of the children, oh Christ help us the children. Kids will see bad shit online and not have the critical ability to turn it off before it does harm, we’re told often. All of the major social media sites have an age limit of 16, yet most parents choose to ignore that their kids use them anyway, because “they all do it” no doubt. But by ignoring that limit it absolutely becomes the parents’ responsibility, not the kids’, for what the little fuckers do online. Or can you blame Diageo for that pile of Captain Morgan and sweetcorn on the living room carpet?
Take responsibility for what you do, what you neglect to do, and what you lazily allow your children to do, you weak bastards. You spend half your life bleating about the Nanny State and the Holocaust-level outrage that is speed cameras and yet when it comes to keeping yourself and your offspring from drowning in a sea of self-harm and Hamas you suddenly need the government to supply the life jackets.
Did you know there are actual people drowning in the Med right now? Life is turning into one big “yeah but I shouldn’t have to watch a video of it”, putting the focus on the people who share the video, the harm to the people who watch it, the companies that allow this material to be online and not the people being trafficked across a sea and the scumbags who toss them into it when the dinghy’s too heavy to outrun a Salvini gunboat.
Accept that people are often outright bastards online. There are many Clives – bored, unhappy and trying to share some of their lonely misery with anyone dumb enough to bite. If you’re so stupid you chose to watch that video of the Christchurch shootings, there are two people to blame for the pain it caused you: not Zuckerberg, not Dorsey and not the person who WhatsApp’d it to you, but Brenton Tarrant and yourself.
Every single thing you think needs to be controlled is piped into your house via broadband and electricity – things you pay the bills for, that you control. You can choose not to expose yourself to it and we can all go on with the internet as a merry hellhole of football transfer rumours and decapitation vids, neither of which interest the faintly sane.
Don’t let governments China the fuck out of the last true Wild West we’ll ever see. It’s on us all to accept the rough with the smooth, the Wikileaks with the Wikipedia, the BBCs with the BBC. We just have to let Clive keep his ‘freedom of expression’. When his mum catches him there’ll be no Fortnite for a fortnight.