Is the Internet a Forest Fire?

 

Fire is insanely powerful, right? We’re taught this from a young age, and animals know it instinctively. But it’s an incredible tool as long as it’s contained. Fire in my wood stove keeps me toasty warm as bitter cold whips around my house in the dark of winter. Fire keeps vehicles running, and hundreds of millions of people depend on it to cook food daily. But a fire unrestricted is destructive in so many ways–it can kill or injure loved ones, destroy everything you own, cause explosions, or wipe out forests and all the homes in its path. Because of this possibility for incredible danger, we learn to respect fire. We contain it and harness its power, we use it as a tool, but we always recognize its potential.

I think, perhaps, the internet is like this. It’s incredibly powerful. Practically everything we do depends on it–from keeping businesses that we visit running efficiently to daily communication and so much more. It can be used in so many good ways, but there’s also a lot of destruction that can come from the anonymity of it.

What are your thoughts–do you agree?

If so, how do we keep it in the “fireplace”? How do we use it as a tool, and more importantly, teach younger generations who haven’t known anything else, to see it as a tool while respecting its danger?

 

These are just a few rambling reflections on some things I’ve seen and heard in the past week…I’d love to hear your thoughts!

  • What It Feels Like to Be the Last Generation to Remember Life Before the Internet–“When you wake up, you have this gift of a blank brain. You could fill it with anything. But for most of us, we have this kind of panic. Instead of wondering what should I do, we wonder what did I miss. It’s almost like our unconsciousness is a kind of failure and we can’t believe we’ve been offline for eight hours,” he says. It is habits like this that are insidious, not the internet itself.”
  • Louis C.K. Hates Cell Phones (interview on Conan O’Brien)–he lets us laugh at ourselves but cuts right through to some deep truths. And just for kicks, if you haven’t seen Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy, you should definitely watch it.
  • And what really sparked these thoughts was this article (originally from a satirical news site). I’ll be honest–it wasn’t on The Onion, so I didn’t know that it was fake. Though I was shocked about the prison time mentioned, I didn’t dig further because I knew that this thing called “swatting” IS really happening. Scary stuff, and it makes me wonder if the internet just amplifies and magnifies group-think and risk-taking in teenagers.
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  • This is an excellent metaphor, and I couldn’t agree more. I don’t know what I would do without it, but I feel scared for a generation growing up so dependent on something that can be so dangerous. I don’t have any answers. I think part of it is awareness: as the internet ages, we will (hopefully) grow more aware of its potential danger and become “safer” and more intentional users.

  • Thanks for your thoughts, Kendra. I agree–I think being aware of what it is and how powerful it is can give us a healthy respect for it. And being “intentional users,” like you mentioned. That’s *so* important and something I’m constantly trying to learn and practice in my life.