The Crazy Stuff You Find On The Internet
New elected mayor and power potentate of our fair city, The Right Honorable Baron Bovin Holstein, Nobel Laureate Cow Person, Grammy winning music impresario, and former immigrant from planet Jupiter, stated during his first State of the City address:
“Our lives are in immanent peril and only the swift and decisive destruction of the Giraffe People of the planet Uranus can bring us peace and security in our times. I have it on highest authority from my former colleagues on Jupiter that these insidious Camelopardalians are preparing a pre-emptive strike upon Earth with deadly rhubarb haberdashery radiation bombs. Our only hope of survival is to launch a pre-emptive strike to counter their pre-emptive strike using all available means, including pluperfect positronic beam weapons of reruns of Beavis and Butthead directed at their central brain nexus and to Hell with the Geneva Conventions regarding humane war strategies!
All citizens are required to maintain personal protective strategies – reasonably priced supply caches will be made available to everyone for head to toe wrapping in exclusive Holstein certified aluminum foil. Supplies of new improved Bovin Industries radiation suppressing brain protective colanders are being rolled out and will be distributed this week for only $99.99 plus tax. Uranus must be destroyed!”
OK- before this gets out of hand…
THIS IS A JOKE! IT’S NOT REAL! I MADE IT UP! IT’S FAKE! DON’T BELIEVE IT!
The Internet Can Be Strange And Dangerous
Unfortunately, my feeble attempt at humor will probably go viral on social media and be picked up by all the “news” organizations to further spread the insanity. This will likely trigger violent clashes between pro-Holstein and pro-Giraffe supporters which will be covered in gore defining detail as network rating boosters. It’s beyond comprehension how the rest of the web goofballs will react. We live not only in strange times, we live in dangerous times.
Anyone and everyone can write anything and everything and post it on the internet. Think about it – even someone as sanity depleted as me can spread his nonsense worldwide with just a couple of mouse clicks. No matter how outrageous, someone somewhere is going to believe it. In fact, the more outrageous, the more likely it’ll be believed.
What can we do to stop the madness?
Open System vs. Closed System
Let’s start with a quick engineering tutorial on negative feedback and closed systems. When I was just a little twerp, my grandparents had gas heaters in every room of their house. When it got too cold, you lit a match, turned on the gas, and got a roaring flame – not the safest devices but they put out a LOT of heat. When it got too toasty, (which didn’t take long,) you turned off the gas. There was nothing automatic about it. Similarly, if it was too hot, you flipped on the window air conditioners until frost formed and you turned them off. This was an open system – nothing except our intervention prevented the temperature from getting too hot or too cold.
When my parents built the big new house in the early fifty’s it had amazing central heat and air. There was a thermostat on the wall that you selected a temperature and the system would maintain that temperature without anyone having to monitor and regulate it. This was a closed system because it could manage itself.
It did this with negative feedback. When the temperature went up, the thermostat reacted negatively – that is, it shut off the heat. When the AC was running, if the temperature got too cold, the thermostat reacted similarly and shut off the cooling. We still had to switch it between heating and cooling, but my current HVAC system will automatically switch between the furnace and the heater. The outside temperature can range all over the place, but my system keeps the interior at a constant comfortable temperature. (Assuming I’ve got power and not suffering from another Texas Ass Freezing Event.)
Suppose that instead of negative feedback, the system was wired up incorrectly to provide positive feedback. As the temperature goes up, the system turns on the heater and keeps it going full blast until things start to melt. When the temp goes down, it’d crank the AC into high gear to keep the temperature going down until ice starts forming.
Negative feedback provides a stable system – it keeps things on an even keel at all times. Positive feedback is inherently unstable. As soon as the temperature goes one way or the other, the positive feedback system forces it to the extreme.
The Internet Runs Off The Sanity Rails
So what does that have to do with the internet? Simple – the web runs on positive feedback – and accordingly, is continuously running totally off the sanity rails. When you are on a website, everything is being tracked. In particular, counts are kept of what is and what is not clicked. When anyone clicks on some outrageous nonsense, such as “EARTH AND URANUS AT WAR!!!” they are providing positive feedback to keep more and more outrageous crap being churned out.
The Darkside Of Clickbait
How do we stop it? QUIT CLICKING ON CLICKBAIT CRAP! If the insane trash doesn’t get any clicks, the site doesn’t get any ad revenue from the nonsense. No revenue and they’ll get rid of the brain junk and replace it with something else. Do that enough, and maybe, just maybe, the worst of the brain destroying excrement can be banished from the web.
Think of each click as a match. If you click on some nonsense, you’ve just given it the spark needed for it to burst into flame – and keep burning as the fire attracts more and more clicks and matches. Stop it now and stop the insanity wildfires!