I think future historians may yet look at this decade as utterly connected yet hopelessly divided – this is but a charitable description that I would offer for this current age.
Recent events concerning campus policing of speech and political expression, the police arresting people like Matthew Doyle for speaking “offensive” thoughts rather than committing any actual violations of other people’s right to life and liberty, and the media response to the transformation of Microsoft’s “chatbot” Tay from friendly artificial teenage girl to Nazi sexbot, among other phenomenon, have me pretty damned convinced that the Western world is going in a worrisome direction – one that will depart from the flame of intelligence.
With Tay specifically, I have to wonder who thought it was a good idea in the first place. But when I see the Guardian implying that the Tay fiasco justifies censorship, claiming that the internet is full of “the kind of material all genocides feed off” and “awash with anger, stereotypes and prejudice” and denouncing the right to offend as “a culture that sees offensive speech as a source of amusement”, it just makes me think that certain people spend their miserable lives trawling the ugliest side of the Internet with no regard for the rest of the net. Also, I have to repeat myself, who thought Tay was a good idea anyway? Who thought that a “chatbot” learning AI on Twitter – freaking Twitter! – would be a good idea? The Internet may be full of nasty people, but the problem is not the Internet being uncensored but rather the fact that people are just awful anyway. With Doyle’s arrest, I see nothing more and nothing less than another chapter in the rise of mob mentality, the kind that we saw in the wake of one dentist killing a lion named Cecil. Only now I see that British law enforcement are not simply facilitating mob mentality – in this case at least, they’re actively sustaining themselves with it! I can see the death of justice arriving in a world that endorses mob mentality as justice, because justice is perverted, raped, and sacrificed because the people have deemed mere offensive speech a criminal act. Democracy in action, right?
It’s a disheartening phenomenon that Man tends to march towards group mentality, and now, in a world connected by computers and information, Man is more enamored in said group mentality than ever before – and also, more enveloped in the foulest poisons of herd mentality. The human race in its current state is the largest herd in the entire animal kingdom, and those who try to exist as individuals or simply contradict that hard may lead difficult lives as the herd punishes them for their dissent but not for committing any actual crimes or violations of the right to life and liberty. In my opinion, this is all fueled by misinformation, ignorance, and a majority decision to not think for oneself, and I believe it can be fueled by much consumption of misinformation that isn’t processed by reason or an individual relationship with the information presented before them.
Be under no illusion: if I am right about this new direction, then this new direction is entirely at the behest of Man itself, rather than the work of shadowy forces seeking to undermine our species. We’re all too familiar with the notion of shady government conspiracies working to dumb down the mind in order to keep it under control. But in my eyes, this is what the people seem to asking for. They now choose weakness, rather than the individual pursuit of strength and balance, and decide that the world must protect their fragile being – having to grow strong on their own would probably kill them! Enlightenment would probably kill them! Man can be weak and ignorant enough as it is, but what we as a species are going through is frankly sickening. We can blame the media, the government, and the world all we like, but in truth the way we are going is Man’s fault. We have the freedom to choose our way, to move towards freedom, but we choose ignorance and the perpetuation of our own weakness instead. And why? Because we aren’t conscious of what freedom means. We aren’t conscientious enough to hold ourselves accountable and responsible, and that’s not good: because it’s only in a world where we are conscientious, accountable, and responsible that liberty can survive. I don’t just mean the government, I mean the people. In a world where we expect the world to protect our own weakness, we lose that conscientiousness, accountability, and responsibility, and with it we will inexorably lose our freedom.
All because Man too often does stupid things, and then when we do them we blow them out of proportion. All because we are somehow convinced that we cannot function as adults with being coddled by a “good shepherd” or by guardians of all that is good. All because we are weak in the face of aggression from those who we clearly have the power to ignore and cry to the world instead of cultivating the strength to keep it together or rise above it, let alone fight back. And in this age we will not succeed in achieving a safe, friendly world. All we will do is either create a sanitized world where there is no liberty, or simply bring malignant and destructive habits upon our world – and we know for a fact that this is not the whole of what Man is capable of doing.