In Chapter 3 of E. Morozov’s book, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, he talks about the “promoting” of internet in authoritarian societies has effected, or failed to effect citizen’s participation in and the questioning of their governments. He points out that it has actually had the opposite effect- that citizens of these countries are actually more skeptical of democratic governments, and are “lulled” and distracted from their own thanks to these somewhat ridiculous, mind numbing forms of entertainment. While I can understand the distraction that comes with the endless things one can do on the internet, I have a hard time believing that the majority of people don’t find this so called “unfiltered” information liberating, and take advantage of it. This voice that the Internet has given everyone was seen after the earthquake in China, when the community exposed the government trying to cover up the fact that the schools were not up to code, and that was the reason so many children were killed. Morozov states, “If anything, the Internet makes it harder, not easier to get people to care, if only because the alternatives to political action are so much more pleasant and risk-free…Where new media and the Internet truly excel is in suppressing boredom” (Morozov, 74-75). I can’t help but ask, has the world become that lazy and complacent?
Morozov goes on to talk about that not only do we have endless cheap entertainment, but now sites such as YouTube and Facebook allow us to customize our experience, creating a bigger, more enticing distraction. Even if we wanted to escape this constant customization, we couldn’t. As Eli Pariser talks about in The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You, “Personal intelligent agents lie under the surface of every Web site we go to,” (Pariser, 24). With Facebook, for example, and the “Facebook Everywhere,” (Pariser 39) concept, every site you go to, every click you make is seen by Facebook, and are constantly personalizing your experience. This type of tracking system, while it seems like it is invented to improve our experience, just helps those in charge, and increase the amount surveillance and propaganda in Western governments.
Despite these somewhat scary personal intelligent agents, and endless distractions, do you believe that these communities in authoritarian societies will be able to truly break free of the constant surveillance and distraction from the truth behind their government as China has begun to? Or will the source, that personally has increased my knowledge of political, cultural, and foreign events, stay just a distraction?