Law in the Internet Society

Will We Take Our Freedom Back from the Internet?

In the era of the Internet, we are all pets fed by those Internet Giants. We trade the convenience, instant pleasure, and illusive feeling of relief and security with our privacy, attention, and wisdom. This is the best of times also the worst of times. Will this change in the future and how long will it take?

1. Freedom is easier to lose

Stealing away our freedom can be such an easy thing when we are treated like pets instead of slaves. Slaves take the fight against the cruel deprivation since they don’t have much to lose, but pets enjoy the confinement without knowing what has been taken away.

On the one hand, we are provided with all kinds of information and contents that are everywhere and have strong sensory stimulation. Our attention as a limited resource is caught or kidnapped by unexpected Pop-ups, eye-catching headings, and all those popular but superficial topics and contents. Our relationship with others is built on and even relies on all kinds of social media. It is more unlikely for us to think seriously about the long-term effects before enjoying these additive services. Also, unlike physical freedom, the freedom (including privacy and our self-development) taken by the Internet is such an intangible thing that there are no obvious or warning hints and people have no feelings or knowledge of losing them.

As a result, most people voluntarily give the freedom unconsciously.

2. Changes are hard to make

Changing the current deal is even harder than making the deal.

People lack the motivation to make a change. Most people still don’t know for sure how they are negatively affected, so it’s difficult for them to assess the value of freedom compared with the value of the “benefits” get from the Internet fast food especially when the existence of potential or current harm caused by giving freedom away is indefinite, latent, and chronic. Seeking a sense of relief, pleasure, belonging and security is an inherent instinct of human beings. The fear about the invasion of privacy is mitigated by the convenience of getting a personalized exercise plan instantly; the annoyance with the targeted pop-up ads is eased by the excitement of the discount information; the frustration about being unable to focus is comforted by the sense of belonging when her online post gets liked. However, the loneliness of the failure to join her friends’ chat about online topics, the disappointment of missing the online sales, and the anxiety about not knowing the latest news won’t be easily offset by the "benefits" of enjoying the freedom. What’s more, those “smart” Internet giants which captivate us have built our model of behaviors and created an ecosystem or network supported by their service. As a result, even if some people may acknowledge and regard highly the importance of freedom, attempts of an individual or small groups to save freedom are no longer an independent choice. Avoiding the service from the Internet giants also means a departure from part of their daily life and abandoning part of their social network, which makes the choice painful. I first learned the unreasonable and unfair part of this deal a long time ago, but I still don't have the courage to fight for my freedom.

3. Will it change in the future

I believe that changing the current dilemma should depend on the efforts of the whole society. What society needs are more information and data about the significant harm caused by the loss of freedom. This information and data should be convincing and reliable (better with examples supported) so that it can be widely accepted. Only when most people see and believe the negative effects and realize how this game is unfair and unreasonable, can we gather the power to confront those Internet giants and challenge those nasty rules made by them and make our new rules.

We need time and patience to wait, dig out and spread. We wait for the gradual emergence of the bad influence. We dig out more and do more research to gather proof for our loss. We spread as best as we can to convince more people to join the fight. I may not be able to fight alone, but I'll help to make it a movement or war. It’s hard to predict how long we need, but I believe it won’t be a quick battle and sometimes it may take some luck (for example, some unexpected popular accidents or mistakes) to make progress.

Even if it is not an easy task, I still have faith in the bright prospect of this battle. Humans can never be held as pets because the need for freedom is an inherent nature in human beings and it is essential to define the unique identity of an individual. There will always be someone or some groups awakening firstly and influencing others. When more and more people are aware of our loss, the inevitable war starts, and will finally win.

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r3 - 27 Dec 2021 - 14:52:21 - FeiyangDou
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