The Internet as a good thing for society is still up-in-the-air; on one hand, it has helped millions of people stay connected, and given the gift of the collected sum of human knowledge to everyone able to get online. However, it’s also resulted in some rather depressing figures and statistics, which we’re going to share right now, because they’re pretty shocking.
10. Homophobic Slurs Are Used Millions Of Times Per Day
We live in a very progressive society; it seem like every week, news will hit that another part of the world has legalized gay marriage. Despite this, homophobia is still more common online than exclamation marks. For example, since July 5th, 2012, one of the most offensive sexual slurs around has been used more than 16 million times on twitter ALONE.
Of course this is just on Twitter, the site where you’re invariably making these statements on a profile that your face is linked to. We don’t think we need to say how quick homophobes come out of the woodwork when anonymity is present but, just in case, we’d like to direct your attention to this article on Jason Collins, the first openly-gay active NBA player. The comments, when sorted by which ones have the most upvotes, become offensive within exactly 1 comment, where someone claims that him coming out is an attempt to claim he’s being discriminated against. Come on, Internet, we know you’re better than that.
At least, we hope you are.
9. Only 1% Of People Create Online Content
Online, there’s a little thing known as the 1% Rule. In a nutshell, it states that 1% of people create the content of the Internet, around 9% of people contribute to that content through comments, votes, likes, and shares, and the remaining 90% or so in no way participate.
Using this site as an example, even the lists with many thousands of views will probably only have a few dozen comments at most. The same can be said for the thousands of other sites out there; the vast, overwhelming majority of people are happy to simply consume the content without participating. Which is fine, as by simple virtue of reading a site, you’ve aided it by providing your page view.
However it’s the 9% part that’s depressing, since it’s this vocal minority who are most likely to be critical of the content. Now, we’re not targeting people with legitimate concerns or constructive criticism. If we miss an entry on a list or make a spelling mistake, tell us about it. We’re human, and we’re bound to make mistakes. It’s the small section of people who do nothing but be critical, mean, or generally unpleasant just for the sake of it. Though those people are very much a minority, just remember that every person who creates content online is outnumbered a thousand-fold (at least) by people willing to instantly tear it down.
For every person willing to start a blog, make a video, or take a photo, there are a hundred people waiting with bated breath to tell them it sucks for no other reason than “the lulz.” And that’s a terrifying thought, since people creating original content are already hard enough to find online.
8. Internet Commenters Will Never Change Anyone’s Mind
As mentioned above there are a small, but nonetheless significant, number of people online willing to be a complete wang to others for no other reason than that they find it funny. In that same vein, there are also a number of people waiting for any chance to start an argument about an issue they feel strongly about. Maybe it’s Obama, maybe it’s the environment or atheism; whatever it is, these people will argue back and forth with other commenters for hours, throwing facts at each other like they’re out-of-date yogurt. We think it’s safe to say that, in the entire history of the internet, no one has ever held up their hands and said, “actually you’re completely right. Let’s stop arguing.”
The reason for this is very simple: changing someone’s mind is almost impossible, online or off. In experiments, it has been shown that when people hold a very strong belief, facts to the contrary, regardless of how reliable the source is, will almost never sway their opinion. In fact, in some cases, proving or trying to prove someone wrong only strengthens their belief in how right they are. Quoting Carl Sagan quotes at a religious person isn’t going to make them abandon a lifetime of faith anymore than the guys on the street handing you pamphlets are going to make you want to worship Odin. It’s just the way we’re hardwired; if you’ve spent 25 years believing that an all-powerful deity is judging you from beyond the stars, or that Batman is the absolute bomb, or that abortion is wrong, that’s going to be very difficult to stop believing. Our minds just aren’t designed to have years of things we “know” to be true shattered in an instant, which is why we’ll internally justify away such explanations and keep on believing whatever it is we believe.
Now here’s where this gets dark: think of how many times you’ve seen an argument online about, well anything. Think of the hundreds of message boards where people are arguing about things right now: religion, politics, video games, films, which superhero is the best, etc. Think of all the millions of hours those places have sucked from people’s lives, and now realize that almost all of that time has probably been wasted as you slowly begin to weep for humanity.
7. Even When People Try To Help, They Cause More Harm Than Good
Remember the Boston Marathon Bombings? Of course you do, it dominated the headlines for weeks. However, one aspect more than others was focused upon and scrutinized in great detail by the wider media, mainly the activities of sites like Reddit during the tragedy.
In theory, aggregate sites like Reddit are a brilliant idea. In practice however, it has its hiccups. For example, during the immediate aftermath of the bombing, many users of the site were quick to try and help in any way they could. One of the most misguided was a subreddit dedicated to finding the bombers. Again, in theory this was a good idea — thousands of eyes are better a few — however, the search quickly became a game of circling anyone with an all-year suntan and a backpack. Seriously. Reddit’s version of “finding the bomber” almost immediately became a racist game of circling anyone who was “brown and alone.”
Although this was obviously done with good intentions, it led to both innocent people being victimized, and mass reporting of false information. You have to admit, it’s a little disheartening to know that thousands of people dedicated their time to a singular cause and ended up causing more harm than good. Boy, we hope Reddit never tries to cure cancer.
6. Women Are Routinely Victimized. Like, A Lot
Sexism online is a hugely divisive topic. In one corner, you have thousands of women saying they’re uncomfortable revealing their gender online due to fear of people being a colossal asshat to them, and in the other corner you have colossal asshats saying this isn’t a big deal because it’s not happening to them.
We’re sure anyone reading this could easily track down an anecdotal tale from a female who has suffered some sort of abuse online purely because of their gender. The mere fact that such an idea exists caused our office whiskey budget to increase by 40%, but we digress. Dealing purely in facts, the results are equally as soul-crushing; 63% of female gamers report being abused solely due to their gender, and are 4 times more likely to suffer abuse in general. And female bloggers are subjected to torrents of abuse so vitriolic and offensive we tried to quote them here, but they were flagged as viruses.
But here’s the thing: women represent virtually 50% of the online world, a world where everyone is technically equal. Yet even in a virtual space they have to deal with people being mean to them, and speaking out about it only makes the abuse get worse. If you’re wondering where the lonely Internet-browsing virgin who is terrible with women came from, now you know. Gee, thanks everyone! As if making a living online wasn’t hard enough.
5. Millions Use Adblock, And It’s Killing The Websites They Enjoy
Remember where we said that, just by virtue of clicking the link that led you to this article, you’ve contributed to this site in some way? However, if you’re using Adblock, you’re not. In fact you’re not doing anything for the site other than slowly sucking away the precious lifeblood that is our revenue as we slowly sink into Internet obscurity, or something.
Most sites earn money from how many people see the ads featured on them. An apparently little-known fact is that you never actually have to click an ad on a website for them to make money from it. As long as you see it, the ad people are happy, and you’re contributing to the running of whatever site it is you’re currently on. Which is why Adblock is so dangerous for the thousands of sites that rely on ads to function. As noted here, the amount of people who use ad-blocking software numbers in the tens of millions. That’s millions of views and thousands of real, actual dollars being lost every single day. Thousands of dollars that the people who make ads get to keep. And come on, be honest: who would you rather have the money, the people running the site you’re on, or the ad people asking you to shoot Dick Cheney’s head for the chance to win an iPhone (some restrictions apply)?
But this is the annoying part; the people who use the software are usually technologically-minded, Internet-savvy people. In other words, the people who use the Internet the most are more likely to visit smaller, niche sites that cater to their interests. Sites that then get squeezed due to the combination of more server strain and less money.
Hey, if you want to block ads, that’s entirely up to you. We can’t do anything about it and telling you no to is only going to make you want to do it more, but at the very least, if you’re going to do it, do it on a site you hate, and turn it off for sites you like.
4. 80% Of Time Spent Online Is Wasted
As we’ve mentioned above, thousands of hours are wasted on fruitless arguments, but the figures go way deeper than that. For example, it’s believed that 80% of all time spent online while at work is wasted. Now, we’re not going to discuss what this means for the loss of man hours at the various businesses around the globe this effects, because people wasting company time hints more at a problem with how that company is run, and not the people working there.
No, the problem is a little more abstract than that. We think the part of this figure people should be paying attention to is that, with the entire collected knowledge of mankind at their fingertips, people will overwhelmingly choose to waste it on Facebook games and overdone memes, rather than actually better themselves through education.
3. The Internet Is Killing Spelling
Judging by how often you guys correct our spelling mistakes, we’re assuming that you handsome bunch of TopTenz readers are well-versed in how the English language works. We’re also pretty sure that if you’ve ever seen a YouTube video comment section, you’re aware of how much the language can be twisted beyond recognition, until it’s just an amalgamation of unreadable gibberish that slowly starts to resemble the screaming ghost of Dr. Samuel Johnson the more you look at it.
According to a study by the English Spelling Society (which, yes, is a thing that exists), things like internet chatrooms and social networking sites have made misspelling more socially acceptable, which has in turn made misspelling more rampant. It’s actually so bad that, according to the study, 66% of children and teens quizzed felt that the dictionary, the eternal guardian and sentinel of the written word, should contain alternate spellings of words. Ya now, becos dat dusnt mayk u luk stewpid @ awll, dus et?
2. Cyberbullying Affects Almost Half Of Teens, And The Cyberbullies Think It’s Funny
Cyberbullying is a massive issue, and though coverage of particularly harrowing cases would make it seem like it’s being cracked down on, the facts state that almost 50% of teens and young people still experience cyberbullying in some form. Digging deeper only reveals more frustrating figures, like how 20% of teens have been bullied by someone pretending to be them, because bullies are jerks like that.
The truly awful part? 81% of young people believe that cyberbullies bully because they think it’s funny. If you don’t think there’s something awful about an overwhelming majority of young people thinking that their peers would be willing to emotionally torture someone because it makes them laugh, then you’re either dead inside or you blacked out during that last sentence. If it’s the latter, then you should have someone take a look at that. It doesn’t sound healthy.
1. The Internet Is Destroying How We Remember Things … We Think
We’ve mentioned several times in this article that the Internet contains a huge amount of knowledge. However, it would seem that this access to almost unlimited information is actually having an adverse affect on how our memories function.
As noted here in this New York Times article, ubiquitous Internet access has seemingly effected how our memories recall facts and information. Having the ability to Google anything we want to know the answer to has made it so our minds don’t recall facts, just recall how to find them.
And you know what? That’s one of the most depressing facts of all. We have this wonderful invention with the capability to teach us all so much and improve all of our lives in a massive, tangible way, and we’re now so dependent on it that we can’t remember anything awesome. Well, that and all the sexism, homophobia, bullying, revenue stealing, and terrible spelling. Other than that, the Internet sure is great, don’t you think?