How many Internets are there?

We recently took on the task of completely remodeling our bathroom:

  • repainting the ceiling and walls,
  • replacing the tiles, the sink/vanity, the toilet, the flooring,
  • redoing some of the plumbing and electrical work,
  • we’re leaving the bath tub alone, for now.

It’s not that ambitious except for the tiling, I’ve never done it. As always my first step is YouTube. It’s fantastic! There are thousands of videos on how to tile a bathroom. As a complete rookie I don’t know which are good, bad or ugly. But it doesn’t matter. Watch enough of them and the good stuff begins to emerge.

Digression: The tiling is going well and it’s 99% thanks to YouTube, and Home Depot.

Which led me indirectly to the question: how many sub-internets are there, actually? Just off the top of my head:

Research: I learned how to tile bathrooms, to make sushi, to repair my lawnmower, to self-prescribe physiotherapy . . . ..

Consumerism: I buy a lot of stuff online. Amazon Rocks! I recently discovered AliExpress. Awesome! I can buy electronics from China for a fraction of the price that it costs at the local WalMart.

Financial: Over 99% of my purchases are done with my credit card.

Entertainment: Netflix and Youtube.

Paperwork: I file my taxes online, renew my driver’s licence on line . . . .. 95% of my interactions with the government are on line.

Local Situations: I check when the library is open, the weather forecast, which movies are playing at which cinema, which traffic routes are congested . . . ..

Communication: I stay in touch with everybody (except my Mom!) using email or texting.

There are probably dozens more. But the airtime that they get is miniscule compared to the polarizing political echo-chamber part of the Internet. Consider the interactions enabled by the Internet on topics like Donald Trump, the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, Climate Change, North Korea, the alleged gender pay gap . . . .

It’s always the same. Consider the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (link):

  1. Websites that are against the pipeline collectively publish (daily!) dozens of critical articles. Information content is low. Facts are cherry-picked. Outrage is moderate. Commenters pile on.
  2. Websites that are in favour of the pipeline collectively publish (daily!) dozens of supportive articles. Information content is low. Facts are cherry-picked. Outrage is moderate. Commenters pile on.
  3. Someone in the anti-pipeline camp reads a supportive article and writes a counter article. Straw men are demolished. Ad hominem attacks abound. Red herrings swim in schools. Pro-pipeline commenters weigh-in. One side compares the other to Hitler, who immediately declares victory (see Godwin’s Law). Outrage is dialled up to eleven.
  4. At the same time, someone in the pro-pipeline camp reads a critical article and writes a counter article. Straw men are demolished. Ad hominem attacks abound. Red herrings swim in schools. Anti-pipeline commenters weigh-in. One side compares the other to Hitler, who immediately declares victory (see Godwin’s Law). Outrage is dialled up to eleven.
  5. Rinse and Repeat.

Digression: An example of step 2 (link).

Personally, I love this kind of free-for-all (it’s Speaker’s Corner at Hyde Park in London on steroids!).

I’ll bet that you didn’t see that coming!

People in positions of power do egregious things all the time (e.g. Trudeau’s requirement for that idiotic attestation of the Canada Summer Jobs program (link)) and this is one way to express opposition.

Digression: Its incredibly easy to become part of this sub-internet. My example in the previous paragraph could easily start the process described above!

Sure there’re excesses. But that’s to be expected when millions of people have a new capability and use it to amplify their opinions. I predict that in twenty years everything will have settled down, people will chill, and the world will be better for it.

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