The Internet connects people, yes, just like a bridge. There’s a fairy-tale spin on things, though, where bridges tend to grow monsters underneath them, which becomes why you need a bridge! Along with the normal environmental hazards which characterise bridge-building, of course.
Our most classic example is the Troll which lives beneath the bridge, and emerges above only to collect toll from travellers (or eating them in lieu of toll) before allowing them to pass (or tossing their crimson remains over the side).
The Troll is typically a visual metaphor for the power of the state. It’s how we explain taxation to small children; how we encourage them to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” and then to “render unto God that which is God’s” by showing them that really, crossing the bridge is more important than paying the tax. The journey of life must continue, right? That’s your imperative, rather than the accumulation of mere gold.
Basic economics. The Troll wants your gold. You want to use the bridge. There’s a voluntary exchange, and things progress. It’s only when you try to steal your way across the bridge, or the Troll tries to extort you (as with the unfortunate story involving the billygoat) that someone winds up dead.
This negative outcome is meant to provide moral authority to the conclusion that one should always engage in voluntary exchanges.
However, there are some pretty unhealthy bridges being built recently, and I want to focus on one in particular with this work.
Bridges have been built over bullying.
I want to explain what I mean by bullying a little bit. Bullying seems to be a function of two things, maybe. To me, bullying is first and foremost an attempt to create hierarchy in places where there are no formal, mechanical methods by which you could create hierarchies. You know, no names on uniforms. No funny hats. No pay scales or seniority or social castes that directly pertain to the group’s specific purpose.
So like, you take an undifferentiated mass of people from all over the place, and put them in a room with no directions. Then, you wait. Maybe they’ll decide to try to get out of the room. Maybe they’ll decide a sleeping rotation. Maybe they’ll keep a watch. But who decides what to do and who does what? Hierarchy must be established, and therefore force might be leveraged in the event that not every perfectly agrees with one another.
Maybe some will bring up gender. Men are strong and should lead, or women are cunning and should lead. Maybe socio-economic castes will be brought up. Rich, powerful CEOs in the outside world should lead with a history of doing so. No, military men should lead a concerted effort. No, a restaurant’s general manager, used to chaos and high turnover, should lead as organiser.
Now, take away the purpose. Take all that developing tension just from a bunch of people in a room, drop their ages into the formative period of human development, and then drop them into boring, mind-numbing, brutally indoctrinating public schools.
You don’t have military men or socio-economics or anything anymore. Now you just have kids with no real self-discipline and lots and lots of thoughts constantly racing through their minds. These kids have also suffered the mistakes of their parents, particularly in the daycare generation with barrages of psychological damage and physical abuses like spanking. Before that, the war-lust generation which spawned countless wars from the dawn of time, whose privations were much worse.
You still have no formal hierarchies. In fact, you have the school system heavily leaning on children to make no attempt to establish those hierarchies.
The other, I think, major element which spurs bullying is another form of hierarchy; resource hunger. Groups, historically, will form around either a charismatic person or a shared interest—packs structures. Those packs will then seek to pursue whatever resources are available in the environment, and resources are always finite. Whether it’s the teacher’s attention, access to the chalkboard, stickers, the back row of desks in the classroom, the seats near the window, weaker students’ lunch money… whatever it happens to be, whatever desired resource each particular pack wants, it will tend to imagine that other packs are in competition for those resources—whether they actually are or not.
This is a function of a lack of ability to properly communicate. Because, of course, people are average, and average people lack the vision, direction, and means to conduct diplomacy even in as inconsequential an environment as a public school, where there are no actual consequences for failing to be effective except by coming under hostility for having attempted the act and failed. This can result in a judgement of weakness or ineffectiveness which naturally leaves one un-entitled to whatever resources are available.
Which is, of course, another source of tension. With these two major factors, there are also a series of smaller, impossible-to-define factors which can result in hostility. From disagreeing on how attractive the colour green is to intensive conflicts over members of the opposite sex, people are capable of finding all sorts of reasons to aggress against one another.
Why do humans compete like this? I have no idea. I think it’s a result of forceful evolution, where you’d get a lot of the same type of behaviour, but having more to do with control over fruit trees, fresh water, arable land and cattle and things of that nature.
Humans do, though, compete like this. Anyone who’s ever been in schools and spent even a few minutes observing the average classroom sort of gets that.
Consider all this the water under the bridge which “we” have built; it’s a bridge made out of attitudinal suppression and indoctrination. It’s a bridge made out of “everyone’s the same,” and “you better get along with one another or else,” and “words hurt and hurting is bad.”
Listen, none of those sensibilities are bad. None of them, except for the subtext on that middle one. The problem comes two-fold: enforcement and application.
So, with your “bridge” of enforced toleration built over the “water” of the simple act of existing as a human being, that’s when your trolls begun to grow out of the sludge on the banks of the river to populate the black space under the bridge. They grow there in the dark spaces where enforcement can’t reach and application doesn’t matter.
Recess. Texting. Hallways. The Internet.
The spaces where enforced tolerance doesn’t work because the state and its representatives have no reach become immediately infested with trolls. An undercurrent of civil unrest and horizontal depredation that is characteristic of the jockeying for position that is natural to human beings as a subset of evolutionary progress characterises these spaces without fail.
So what do you get when you try to force people to be civilised? Their uncivilised excesses intensify and appear in spaces which cannot be controlled.
Two things to note, here. One is that this instinct is strengthening. The tighter controls get, the more violent the natural rebellion of the human beast. We’ve seen this throughout history; in Rome, the gladiatorial matches and shows and horse races and things were captivating… until they weren’t. Until restrictions by taxation and civil law eventually pushed the population so hard that they began to revolt, and by 404 AD when Rome was sacked by Alaric and his Vandals, Rome’s population had gone from a million to fifty thousand.
The second is that the only fault with the bridge is that it carries force with it. You can’t “force” people to do anything, because you will immediately experience counterforce for whatever reason. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and so on and so forth. It’s not that you can’t get immediate results through force; schools are proof that you absolutely can. But the instability generated, without having the occasional war which kills off a bunch of the more violent individuals and also educates the rest on why they need to abide by the rules of the bridge, people begin to wonder why they should bother.
Otherwise, if you could persuade, or convince, or appeal to people in a reasonable way to their full agreement and yours that they should behave in certain ways, everything would probably be fine. Willing behaviour has rarely carried much of a downside. Look at Rome, again. The Legions arrive, agricultural output triples (everyone gets to eat) civil law becomes a real thing (fair rule of law means less thievery, murder), bandits are rooted out of the countryside, pirates are sunk and hanged and crucified… and then all they want you to do is follow the law, pay a few bushels worth of product a year in taxation for Rome—remember, the Legions have just given you the technology to increase your farming output by 300%) and they’ll leave you alone. That’s extremely persuasive, and it’s no wonder Rome lasted as long as it did, with the successes it enjoyed.
So, back to our bridge and the irony of it. The irony, you ask? The bridge itself, as I mentioned earlier, is based on free and fair exchange. The bridge isn’t supposed to leverage force against people to make them behave! It’s meant to encourage win/win exchanges. So now, instead, you wind up with trolls who, if they enforce the law in the fairy-tale, now they are products of the violation.
Trolls in our era, who exist in flash mobs and the Internet, through email hacks and memes, are constantly attacking every stone of our bridge.
In our world, that bridge is censorship of every sort. Cries of racism to silence people. Cries of sexism to silence people. Cries of anti-homosexuality to silence people.
And what did it do but give birth to a vast, depth-laden Internet culture which relishes and uses the ability to exercise free speech on the trackless, unenforceable expanses of the Internet to the point where they begin to sound almost exactly like the people who actually mean words like “nigger” or “chink” or “wop” when they use them.
That’s the problem with our current-day Social Justice Warriors. They can no longer tell the difference between people who actually hate things, and people who are just exulting in the freedom to say what one wishes to say; an act which cannot be subdued without long decades of cultural brainwashing and suppression.
This existed for a while, and then became weaponised in the American Presidential Election of 2016, when vast threads finally begin to link to one another and create a net of support for the only presidential candidate who promised freedom and a total disinterest in political correctness? Who promised, tacitly, to destroy the bridge that was built over the freedom of the waters from which these trolls had arisen?
In case you’ve been wondering how that happened, your answer might very well be “radicalisation” in a word, as it applies to the oppressed that I’ve been talking about in this article. It’s a dismissive word, and a strange word to use for a world-shifting, paradigm-shaking event which has left the American political institution—and therefore, the global political institution at large—in complete flux, with no idea what to expect. But what do you expect from people who have insisted on censoring, suppressing and fighting against freedom of expression? Of course they can’t express themselves anymore—the balance of probability is that they were projecting in the first place, and actually don’t know how to express themselves freely.
It’s why they need their bridge.
Bridgebuilders have turned violent, and they watch as trolls begin to take over in Germany (Alternative for Deutschland) and France (Front Nationale) after already prevailing in Britain and the United States of America.
What will they do now? What sort of bridge can they build? Or will they turn even more violent and repressive?