The Internet is a 19-Year-Old Boy

 

We expect an awful lot from the Internet. We rely on it for numerous tasks to keep our businesses working every day, to help us do our homework, to keep us in the loop on what’s happening in the world, to run errands for us, and to take out the trash. Today, we simultaneously rely on it and want to strangle it when it promises to come through, but childishly let’s us down.

Which got me thinking: If the Internet were a person, it’s the digital equivalent of an inexperienced, irresponsible 19-year-old boy. Regardless of how far its come, we forget how young and naive it honestly still is.

The Internet can be snarky, restless, cocky-confident, and completely unaccountable for it’s various shortcomings. Security tends to be an after thought, and it costs us a great deal of time, energy and money to maintain it. Sound familiar? And, even though it’s nearly full-grown and become a standard utility, much like indoor plumbing, power and heat, it’s preoccupied with some of the most tasteless elements out there, from tabloid gossip, slander, liable, and porn. This is a budding grown-up with the body of an adult and the mind of a 13-year-old. It commits a great deal of time and attention to trivial pursuits, rants about things it knows nothing about, and, like it’s human counterpart, it thinks it knows everything because it assumes there’s little if anything left to learn.

Ah, youth. I’d kick you in the pants if I had half the chance. Seriously. The comparison between the Internet to that of a 19-year-old in an algorithm suit is almost uncanny.

Need proof? Head over to any local Guitar Center or Best Buy. Let any one of the young employee/associates working in the electronics department know you’re trying to put together your home recording studio for voiceover. (Secretly they will be salivating.) What will likely transpire, if you actually follow this young person’s instructions to the letter, will be your wallet will magically become about $3000 lighter. Spent on gear you won’t know what to do with, let alone need. Gear they would purchase if they had the chance, and that you won’t be able to return without a serious “re-stocking fee”, which could be up to half of what you paid.

So, before you run off to learn this hard lesson won PRIOR to proper voiceover counsel… please hold off. There are a number of factors that need to be considered first. Instead, start here: http://voiceoverinfo.com/vo-training/#f OR better yet, here: http://voiceoverinfo.com/vo-training/#a

The Internet is a perfect parallel to these young, Big Box “authorities” spouting, with great confidence and abandon, their narrow experiences and insights that hypnotically reads as both credible and sincere. They can be very convincing. Maybe that’s why we listen to them so intently, and trust what they’re saying. Much in the same way, we give the Internet credit for being further evolved and seasoned than it actually is.

And I get it. I was your age once, son. I’ve made more than my share of mistakes, too, regardless of youth. Thing is: I’m actually accountable for my actions. The Internet? Not so much.

When we’re young we think the world is a massive place, which some think they can hide, or remain anonymous in. And yet, online, the polar opposite might actually be true. The Internet reduces six degrees of separation to three, or possibly less, which is simultaneously a blessing and a curse, depending on what you’re communicating over this seemingly subtle, yet omnipresent mass medium. But then that’s the crux of social media. Social media becomes a composite of your interests, which ultimately defines who you are to the world at large.

Certainly what you’re communicating online might scream louder than the network news, whether it’s what you intended to communicate or not. Again, lacking experience and distancing ourselves from the human element, it’s very likely what you’re communicating online isn’t saying what you think it’s saying. This is one of the most common pitfalls to plague small business owners and 19 year-old “authorities” on all manner of subjects, and why thoughtful branding is truly an art form.

Maybe I’m giving the Internet more credit than it deserves. Maybe it’s younger and dumber than we think. Thing is: being socially awkward on the Internet undermines others confidence in us, and resorts us all back to junior high. This is why participating in negative, degrading subjects, like a 12-year-old with an axe to grind, boomerangs back on us very quickly online.

Maybe the Internet is more like a coddled child we’ve been fooling ourselves about. We haven’t held it responsible for conveying the truth yet. Maybe the Internet is more like us than we care to face. Like its cocky human equivalent, the Internet has a ways to go yet before its truly reliable, responsible for what it purports, and matured. It’s still young yet. Besides, we love it in spite of all its shortcomings and foibles.

Of course, some kids never grow up. Might have something to do with upbringing.

As the saying goes, “It takes a village.” 

 

 

Copyright © 2017 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved