Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
geoffsebesta: (Default)
A lot of people believe in God. A lot of people don't believe in supernatural forces that control their destiny. I take from both camps liberally, and I think that's why I understand the internet better than the Westboro Baptist Church.


What the WBC doesn't understand is that by calling down the hand of fate i.e. 4chan they have lost all credibility and sympathy. The WBC subsists by trolling real life and then suing everyone who bites.

You can't sue a teenage girl in Albania, so the chans are completely beyond their reach.

The chans will always move to wherever the legislation permits them; allow me a simple thought experiment to prove this:

Wherever people go, they have children.
Wherever there are children, there are eventually teenagers.
Wherever there are teenagers, there is the potential for random and unmitigated destruction.

so once you have given: the Internet you have chans or something like them. It is an absolute fact of modern life and you can either celebrate it or spend your life getting more and more pissed off at it. Internet + teenagers = This sort of thing.

The WBC has called down their doom in a few ways:

1. They trolled themselves in the beginning -- I strongly suspect WBC wrote the first emails to themselves.
2. They think that Anon is something they can find in America so that they can sue it.
3. They believe there is any sort of central control to Anon.

It seems irrelevant because the WBC does not need the internet to function. I guarantee very little of their funding comes from donations. They are maybe the most universally reviled modern group (since the Nazis and the KKK aren't current players). Still, let's discuss point 3.

It's one of those weird-but-true facts that alpha organizations see all organizations as alpha organizations. I've seen this demonstrated countless times at the Gathering -- seen how long it took the Forest Service to get it through their collective heads that the Gathering does not have a leader or anything like that. It took them nearly forty years and they still haven't quite gotten it (though certain individuals have figured it out, it's still not an institutional grokking).

Modern protest groups are too vulnerable to disruption and do not have leaders. This is a fact. That's why you can't find any leftist equivalents of Rush or Beck. I believe this developed from the post-WWII world when the US, Russian, and French governments systematically decapitated youth movements so many times that youth movements learned to live without a head. That's my opinion of the history and there's a lot of room for discussion there, but there's no doubt where we are today -- look what happened in Egypt. Even to this day there's no particular leader to the Egyptian protests, El Baradei is the closest and he is not very close. The internet is extrememly facilitating to leaderless movements.

Moreover, the constant attempt to decapitate (or remove important individuals) has become a huge waste of time for alpha organizations, but they are unable to stop because that's how they see the world. "Remove the troublemakers and the rest fall in line," is how they see it. They can't handle a system when everyone is completely opposed to them.

But I'm getting distracted by politics in trying to prove my point; that the WBC believes, just like HBGary, that they can find "responsible parties" in Anon and sue them and make money. They are not as completely wrong as HBGary, and they will profit more from this than HBGary, but they still don't get it. They're trying to put themselves in the same position as the RIAA (or for that matter your local police officer on traffic duty) -- profitting off of random Americans who fall into their trap.

Will it work? No, I don't think it will. I think the WBC is fragmenting, and if they do inspire counterprotests (which they might, they are that universally reviled) it will be the end of them. SDCC 2010 proved that WBC counterprotests are HILARIOUS and much, much, much better press than the actual protest. WBC may actually be able to make it fun and cool to attack them, and I don't think they can survive that any more. Maybe they can. Doubt it. George Bush proves that no matter who you are, you can't stand up to the combined hatred of the entire world for more than a decade.

Now, let's get back to the philosophy.

A lot of people believe there is a God. Atheists, like myself, tend to believe that there is no God -- there is no "supreme being."

However, I didn't stop my investigations there. I do believe there are deeper patterns to life, and that human beings are occasionally manipulated by things far beyond their knowledge or control. I think of it as the "zeitgeist" or the "spirit of humanity," or the "spirit of the Earth," which are all three different things. The "spirit" of humanity, which is the sum total of all our actions, thoughts, desires, and dreams, can no more directly communicate with you than you can communicate with a single cell in your elbow. But it can still move us around, just like you can move your elbow. It is unlikely that a single cell in your elbow can see or understand what's going on. But still it moves.

Same goes for the zeitgeist/mandate of heaven (Egypt would be a very clear example of the vietnamese "Mandate of Heaven") and the "spirit of the Earth," which are unknowable to us, and undescribable. We can observe it and predict it. We cannot really control it, though we are sometimes controlled by it. Joan of Arc is the clearest example I can name of someone embodying/controlled by/embodying her zeitgeist.*

Now, the internet is the most powerful tool yet for interfacing with the zeitgeist. It essentially makes direct contact with the zeitgeist -- an experience so powerful it used to be reserved for saints, prophets, madmen, and hippies -- an everyday experience.

The internet actually fills a niche that used to be filled by the religious experience. Religious groups naturally see this as a threat, and it is. It replaces religion as neatly as the car replaced the horse. You can commune with That Which Is Greater Than Yourself on a daily basis. You can ask it questions and it will give you answers on Google. You can ask it for advice on Facebook. You can pray to it, or put a paypal donation button on your website. You can find out what people are thinking in Egypt; if you use the Buzz option on Google Maps you can actually see where they were when they twittered.

You can talk to the voices, and the voices will talk back.

And, unlike religion, it is knowable, understandable, translated into your language, and available 24-7.

So religious groups, which are alpha as all hell, see this as a threat (which it is, it directly undermines their power) and attempt to destroy it by finding the leader and stamping them out. Which is impossible, as there is no leader. Poor churchies, I sorta feel sorry for them. I don't question their sincerity, ya know. Only their rationality.

So in some ways the internet has taken the place of religion. Not in all ways (just as a horse provides more companionship than a car) but in more than enough and with much less direct toxic debris (which is why you rarely see piles of horse poop on the road these days).

Think of it as our pet idiot god. Even though there's literally nothing in the internet that humans did not put there, at this point it's evolved to be its own life form. It is not a terrible stretch to call the internet a life form. I mean, it can even drive cars and play Jeopardy now. In most ways it does what we want; I type something into Wolfram Alpha and I get an answer. But you can also deal with it on the uncontrollable, societal level. Which is what the WBC just tried to do.

It's not surprising that the chans were the first to come to our attention as an expression of Net semisentience; they are not the only example at all -- Wikileaks and Facebook did more in Africa than the chans -- but they are the angriest and most in-your-face. That's because they represent and aggregate teen angst and aggression. Metaphorically, they are a minor god of adolescence. The WBC is insane to go up against this -- they do not understand the situation. They are pitting their false god against the blind rage of the internet, and they think they're gonna, what? dot dot dot profit? Man, that is NOT how you make money on the web.

Now, I'm not immune to the wrath of the internet because I know about it. Knowledge is little protection here, and like they say, if you hang out in the barbershop you're gonna get a haircut. At some point my interest in the chans is going to cause me trouble. If you knew a human being who acted like the chans do, would you be friends with them? Or, would you be surprised when it somehow went wrong?

I'm slightly down with Anonymous, because of events at SDCC 2008, but that doesn't mean anything -- there's no reason to believe that those events are stored in their institutional memory, and I have no idea who I was dealing with on the Anon side because they wore masks. All I know is they were dedicated. I would like to believe that Anon likes me but I know better. Nevertheless, I'm on their side. I trust them much more than these egocentric organizations they tilt against. I'm no sort of hacker, I barely even know what DNS stands for. But, to me, those people are heroes. They're making a difference and it's the right sort of difference. They bring the democratic future I desire much, much closer. It'll all go wrong someday, but right now it's great.

* Unless there's another, simpler explanation for her history that I have yet to see.


geoffsebesta: (Default)

Most Popular Tags