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Fuck the Internet

Seriously, though. Fuck the internet.

None of us actually like it, but we're all completely goddamned addicted aren't we? We all talk about how much we should disconnect, but none of us actually do.

And can you imagine if you told someone from, say, the 17th century, "I have a tool in my pocket that can instantly access the entire sum of human existence... pull up any fact any data any research or information in any language in literally seconds?"

"What do you use this tiny, sorcerer's device for?!?" They would say, "To enrich your life? Deepen your understanding of the mysteries of creation? Further the human experience for the good of all?"

"Nah. To watch videos of cats run into saran wrap and to argue with strangers."

"What is saran wrap?" They would say, and 30 seconds later you would both be laughing as cat after cat ran right into it in the palm of your hand.

It's just a silly, damned echo-chamber, isn't it? It's given us the ability to connect with other people who share beliefs, no matter how cockamamie, and serve as the ultimate tool of confirmation bias.

Recently I've posted a couple of things about some, perhaps, questionable behavior by divers. I haven't thought it was anything super fringe or controversial. Points of discussion, yes... perhaps debate. Generally things I've noticed and thought about after years as a diver, instructor, dive safety officer, and generally anxious sort of person who would rather see the people around me enjoy the world safely and not get hurt.

Then, as divers are wont to do: there's the argument. The contention.

"Try to avoid doing something like this," I might say.

"I do that all the time!" has been the response.

And then there are others who do that all the time, too. And it becomes a numbers game. How many people can you find who think that your behavior is correct. Sometimes it's people in real life - sometimes it's aggregations of strangers with a shared virtual friend.

But for whatever reason, a bunch of people latch onto an idea and they all beat on their collective chest about how it's awesome.

With such a vast population pool available through our internetworkedness, frequently there reaches some vague tipping point when there are enough people that suddenly it becomes the norm. Or, at the very least, you can have a little tribe who can take collective pride in knowing the "right" way. Suddenly, whatever behavior (sometimes a batshit insane behavior) is just fine because people agree with you. Might makes right.

There are actually a good number of studies about the counterproductive addictive brain chemistry of "being right." There is even more sociological understanding of how the evolutionary tribalism of our species manifests in most of our behaviors. We cling to in-groups and out-groups desperately, even without meaning to, even with seemingly benign behaviors without knowing we're doing so. And this can easily and obviously be applied to the understanding of our use of the internet as a tool.

None of the tribalism nor the "rightness" is terribly useful.

But none of that really matters. None of it will change. Divers will keep doing dumb shit even in the face of the most persuasive evidence against it, because they will always be able to find some buddies, or a dive shop, or a bunch of people on the internet who will say, "Yup! I do that, too! And anyone who says you shouldn't is a no-good so-and-so!"

I'm just blowing off steam in a long rant that, the few people who will even read this far will probably almost immediately after finishing this sentence, will google "cats saran wrap."

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