You may have noticed, recently, something of a brouhaha blowing up on the so-called "world wide internet". For a whole 24 hours, several websites shut themselves down, including Wikipedia, throwing the world into disarray, leaving millions in the shadows of hapless ignorance, and causing me to suffer a humiliating defeat in a game of "Name that You Can’t Do That On Television cast member".
It was a powerful demonstration of the influence the internet has on the world, and of how 90 per cent of the Western world now sees every single event that happens anywhere as an opportunity for a Twitter meme.
Why did Wikpedia shut down? Too much vandalism on Christopher Pyne’s page? Well, maybe in part, but the main reason was as a protest against proposed new laws in the US, the SOPA laws, designed to fight internet piracy. The claim is that, by attempting to fight piracy, these laws would in fact place unacceptable restrictions on freedom of speech and the free interchange of ideas between the netizens of the world.
OK. Now look. I am as great a believer in freedom of speech as the next News Ltd columnist, and I have no wish to be infringing on all of your Facebooks and webcomics and Chatroulettes. Live and let live, is my motto. But I feel like affairs have reached a pass that compels me to speak out. There is something I simply have to say right now, and right here:
Internet, it is time for you to shut the hell up.
I’m serious. I know the internet is a place for people to get together and communicate and exchange views and share information, but surely there is a limit, and surely we are past it. Surely we can’t go on like this, trudging hopelessly into the teeth of this savage blizzard of opinion and outrage and cyber-bullying and animated gifs. Surely it is, in fact, time to pull back and start restricting internet freedom, lest our very humanity be sucked into the maelstrom.
Let’s look at the response to these anti-piracy laws. People on the internet twisted up their panties, jumped up and down and squealed like castrated pixies over them, saying no, we don’t want no stinking anti-piracy laws. But what does that tell you? If you’re not anti-piracy, you are, by definition, pro-piracy. You are in favour of piracy. You are quite happy for pirates to go on pirating, waving their cutlasses, lighting their beards, and distributing new episodes of Game of Thrones without the slightest piece of permission, while Sean Bean has to supplement his income by fighting drunks in the street for pennies because nobody will pay for his shows. Quite happy for that to happen, are the pro-pirates.
Quite happy for Michael Bay to sell his children to pay the bills because Transformers 3 was on the torrents before it came out at the cinema. Quite happy to cyber-sodomise Coldplay with extreme prejudice. They don’t call them "pirates" because they enjoy daring swordfights and complicated supernatural plots, guys: they are bad people who care nothing for laws or social conventions, seeking only to terrorise the seas of the professional entertainment industry, and ransack the treasures of modern culture.
But here we are, defending these scurrilous buccaneers and trying to make piracy acceptable. We have lost our moral compass. We have become utterly deranged, morally, emotionally and intellectually, by this "internet" that now rules our lives.
The internet seemed such a wondrous invention when it first came along. It would change the world for the better, we thought. But the internet got greedy. It exceeded its terms of reference. It stopped being useful and became an all-consuming beast, devouring and destroying all that came within its orbit.
When the internet was invented, it was intended for two very clear, very simple purposes: tasteful amateur pornography and abusive arguments about science fiction television shows. And it fulfilled those purposes excellently, and grew and blossomed — indeed the amateur pornography on offer today is of a higher quality than ever, and today’s nerd always has a safe haven in which to completely lose his mind.
But sadly the internet has grown to encompass uses it was simply not meant for. Like politics, for example — do you really think the brave pioneers who created the internet ever thought it would be used to allow people to sign up for Scott Morrison’s newsletter? Did those gentle programmers ever foresee such atrocity being made of their theoretically peaceful creation? Did they ever think "Two girls, one cup" would ever mean something more than a poorly constructed brassiere for conjoined twins? They did not, and I’m sure when they look at the havoc their invention has wrought, they must wish they had taken an axe to that first crude wooden prototype, and never invented the internet at all, such is the foul blasphemy it has become.
Such horrors as the modern net provides would not have been dreamed of in happier days. If you had told Leonardo Da Vinci that one day the internet would allow millions of people around the world to send pictures of distended anuses to each other, he would have said, "What’s the internet?" Because he was an idiot. I mean, you’d think he could have made an educated guess from the context, right? But that’s my point — the internet has dumbed us all down so much that we are in grave danger of soon becoming every bit as stupid as Leonardo Da Vinci.
And you know that’s the way it’s going. The internet now is a seething snakepit of stupidity, a morass of morons, a ravening Sarlacc which feeds on the screaming pigmen of human intelligence and spits out the bare white bones of idiocy.
For today we see not intelligent debate, informed discourse, or reasoned analysis. We see nothing but incoherent gurgling and misspelled invective rendered in all caps. Nobody wishes to enlighten themselves, to elevate their minds, to engage in pleasant conversation about the upcoming council elections or which Stargate is the best. Everyone just wants to fight, to call each other Nazis and communists without a care in the world.
Why bother reading a book, or taking a woodwork course, when you can "log on" to your "smartphone" and compare a complete stranger unfavourably to a diseased foreskin because they thought "over-generous" was a better term than "excessive" to describe automotive subsidies? Why bother going for a game of beach cricket or flying a kite with the kids, when you can write a blog post demanding that anyone who likes Star Wars Episode 1 should be hung from a lamppost and shot? Why bother going to church when you can deliberately force someone to watch a Rick Astley video out of nothing but meanspiritedness? Why bother doing anything, when you can — if you’ll excuse my French — herpy derp derp derp?
I’m afraid, people, the internet has a hold of our brains and our hearts, and is gradually tearing them apart. And as in most problematic social situations, there is one solution only: censorship. We need to crack down and get rid of all the filth, the abuse, and the downright rudeness that pollute our beloved web. We need strong, effective, snooty laws that will stop the mind rot from progressing any further.
First, we ban any sites that encourage strong passions and argumentation, such as Twitter, Facebook, the Huffington Post or Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP. Next, we ban any sites that include pictures of smiling politicians. And finally, we ban computers altogether. Because if you don’t have a computer, you can’t use it to call someone a cocksmoking donkey rapist. You’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way, by cutting letters out of That’s Life, instead. Good, honest, hard-working abuse, not the lazy sniping we get nowadays thanks to the mad tinkering of "science".
Change has to begin at the grassroots. Take the first step, readers. As soon as you’ve finished reading this article and signing up as a financial supporter of New Matilda, turn your computer straight off, get out your most fragrant stationery, and write a letter to:
The Department of Computer Internets and Electric Tubes
3 Canberra Road, Canberra.
Demand an end to internet stupidity. Demand an end to viciousness and peer-to-peer Twilight slashfic. Demand an end to computerised buffoonery. And most of all, demand an end to news and opinion websites that don’t give me money.
Quills at the ready, people. The revolution will not be YouTubed.
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