Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, May 25, 2024

Internet helps advance global revolutions

Not long after I first began using the Internet in mid-2001, I found myself patronizing certain websites I found funny or interesting-most times both. Over time I noticed these web forums are in themselves small communities with each person contributing their own material or thoughts, which define that specific forum. These societies have their own citizens, their own humor and their own general will. All small groups have a mini-culture, so what?

In essence, individuals assume alternate mindscapes in various forums in society. While anonymity surely plays a role in people acting differently online, I see the Internet becoming its own being. Just give a look to the hacker group Anonymous, a conceptual being born from Internet society.

Anonymous is the metaphysical incarnation of the Internet-a collection of anonymous individuals that, when taken together, represent the whole of a much larger entity. To think what originally started as a joke amongst Internet users is now an entity waging war on the physical world is almost unbelievable, but oddly enough almost makes sense, as if another step inside some evolution. Just look at the patterns.

What makes Anonymous so much more powerful are the people behind it. Just who is part of this group? As recent arrests indicate, those who make up Anonymous range in age from 16 to the early 30s-the generations that embraced computers entirely. Is this simply because the Internet society is a youth subculture? Or is it something much more-a beginning of a new era of human identity? Twenty years from now will we see more groups, a stronger anonymous? At this point I'm not totally sure, but the government sure hopes to see that does not happen as indicated in its new policy towards cyber war.

Anonymous' hunger for anarchy lies in its universal thirst for truth, a truth completely untouched by elite forces. This is what makes Anonymous so dangerous when it publishes hacked information. This includes the login information for the Syrian government to an entire county's law enforcement computers.

Anonymous now takes on large, extremely important political issues ranging from the protection of Wikileaks, organizing the Occupy Wall Street movement and engaging in cyber warfare against Arab autocrats challenged by the Arab Spring revolutions. In the physical world, anonymous members would have no real ability to easily disrupt elite institutions, but with a computer, once-powerless individuals now has the ability to make real changes. The international membership of Anonymous also seems to indicate some sort of general thought; the question is whether this is a symptom of this generation's disillusioned youth, or if this is the genesis of a larger meaning for Internet society?

The meaning for me seemed to evolve naturally in 2009 when I watched Iranian protesters face awful brutality and censorship as they challenged their government. Instead of being a mere observer I actually contributed through the internet. I helped set up a proxy server on Twitter for the sole purpose of giving Iranian protesters a voice since their government had shut down all Internet communications. While I may not have had an enormous effect myself, other observers like me, were able to successfully arrange important communications between protesters and the outside world. I had no conscious thought on what I was doing, I simply did what I felt was the natural thing to do. I even spoke with the protesters, as I did with Egyptians, and as I occasionally do with Syrians. I wished them well; I showed personal empathy; I spoke with them about their goals and dreams. In essence, I was with them.

The new Internet is a society of the powerless who are given the means to be the change they wish to see in the world. It has taken on a whole new dynamic that supersedes its previous uses, the ability to unite humanity in one cohesive collective, but more importantly, the opportunity to act without the restrictions of the material world. Humanity is entering the advent of the Internet, but it leaves me to wonder what this means for us as people. Are we citizens of our communities and our nations, or are we becoming a part of a much larger entity as parts of the world seemingly move into systemic political anarchy?

Matthew Curry is a junior majoring in political science and environmental studies. Tweet your thoughts to @dailycardinal.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Daily Cardinal delivered to your inbox
Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Daily Cardinal has been covering the University and Madison community since 1892. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Cardinal