internet politics
November 12, 2002 12:28 PM

I've seen one depressing response to this week's collab topic already. Although I suppose it wasn't a formal response, as I just happened upon it. Ironically, only one person has actually posted a response to the question. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is listening.

So, here's the question:

How has your participation in the internet changed your participation in and your perspective on politics and activism? How could the internet be used to improve the global political environment?

The internet has become my primary information source. Particularly for things political and newsworthy. Part of that is the post-US terrorism climate in the news - if we were domestically focused before last year, it was actually less disturbing than the biased perspective of US news sources towards global news that exists currently.

I have this ideal that the internet globalizes politics, while simultaneously encouraging real grass-roots activism. Of course, that isn't really what happens - partly because the population on the internet doesn't actually reflect the population as a whole. The working poor can't join the Green Party's internet activism drive, for instance, because the working poor doesn't have the free time or the money to spend much, if any, time online.

But. I do think that online communication is a critical part of politicizing us. It certainly politicized me.

I can, in fact, trace my activism along the path of my most frequently visited sites. I started with a queer community site called Paradox [Anyone remember it?] as a way to keep in touch with my friends during college and gradually evolved to an assortment of IRC discussions around queer politics. I'm pretty sure feminism snuck in at that point, too. It's the books that those people recommended to me in the early nineties that gradually galvanized me into leftism (having previously considered myself something of a libertarian. A lot of my political action continues to be online, with the support of communities like the collab group.

And even as recently as a couple of years ago, i was using the net to evolve my political perspective - the zine was born out of some questions I tossed around with new acquaintances at the now [sadly] defunct and the third-wave feminist community at Diaryland.

That sort of site (the communities at Livejournal, for instance) can become a great forum for political learning. Yes, all of those places contain a fair amount of triviality, and yes, they come to be dominated by teenagers. But that's not necessarily bad. So much of the things we believe as adults are the things we came up with as teenagers in reaction to our parents - but what if we all had more access to real information upon which to base our opinions, and to a wide range of people with whom we could debate? How much earlier would I have grown into activism if I'd had access to sites like that when I was, say, fifteen?

And I guess that's part of my ideal internet - growing up in these extended communities has to effect you - and if politicians and activists were open participants, I think one effect would be to push people towards civic action.

I can imagine a future of kids who've grown up on an internet whose population actually matches the real world population. Kids who, as adults, can shift between cultures and are inherently skeptical of bad or biased information (the other thing the internet is great at - you can find information, factual or fictional, to support any crazed opinion you may have).

And wouldn't that be nice?

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your wicked thoughts

I posted mine...sorry for being such a delinquent. We were just discussing the internet in my Research in English class last night and what legacy it has for literature. The article we were discussing was written in the early 90s, but the guy who wrote that had been talking about something written back in the 1950s (i think) and what kind of idealism he had for hypertext. Basically, we all agreed that not enough people were using it to its full potential, while the common user is busy with porn or napster instead of anything that requires thought.

these are the thoughts of Kerri on November 13, 2002 03:53 PM

Great entry! I've done a response, but it's not really in the same line as your topic.

these are the thoughts of Prue on November 14, 2002 05:04 AM

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