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The Internet Is Our Reality Now
The last few weeks have been insane and left me in a bit of shock. The insurrection on the capital & the entire GME saga are two good examples. I look at both of those and think - what the hell happened there??
One moment that stood out to me was from an interview with a woman who flew into the insurrection on a private jet. After she got arrested and let out on bail she told the press she "didn’t realize that storming the capital might land me in jail.” me watching: ???
It was tough for me to to understand. How could she not have known it was illegal to physically break into federal offices? We didn't get much else on her but outside of that in the interview she seemed lucid and at least somewhat aware of the real world?
When I looked at her situation through the lens of the real world, she seemed insane. But later I found out she was a QAnon. And by putting on the QAnon lens it all made more sense. Of course she thought she was immune from legal trouble, QAnons thought they were getting orders from Trump himself and so if the president is telling you to do something it's probably not a crime. And worse case you can always get a pardon.
We've been slowly spending more time online over the years, building our own online communities & forming our own online identities. And those online identities and offline identities are starting to merge together. By now many people spend most of their waking lives online in some fashion. Working in Google Docs, meeting on Zoom, chatting in Slack, Facetiming friends, scrolling TikTok, watching Netflix. We spend more time online than not.
So it's no surprise that for some people, their lives & existence is more online than offline. Their communities, identity, philosophy, understanding of the world, etc all come from the internet. For some people, the internet is their God. And if your God is QAnon, it can go bad quickly.
Then add covid to the mix. We went from slowly moving towards an online-dominant world to then all of a sudden everybody dialing it up to 1000 simultaneously. In one fell swoop we were all forced to be always online, all at once and all the time. No wonder things got weird.
That's why I've never understood people who talk about "the metaverse" in future tense. We're already here, the UI just isn't what we were told it would be. Most people are already living in an online-dominant world, it's just not in a 3d world as an animated avatar. Instead we jump from website to website on a browser or phone and interact with our own digital worlds that way. ie if we turned Twitter into a digital world, there would be a lot of inhabitants.
I don't know all the ramifications, but it is really cool seeing these internet-native communities rise with their own cultures, styles, and perspectives. And as our collective online & offline cultures continue to blend, internet-native groups can begin to really exert their influence not only online but also in the real world. And it's hard to see how internet-native communities don't end up becoming the more powerful one.
Obviously this can go bad (ie QAnon), but like anything it can be used for both positive and negative. There are tons of interesting ways this can take shape and I see a lot of amazing ways this can be help make people's lives better. Software has been shown to allow far more creativity than classic meatspace and it will be really exciting to see what we build in our new hybrid world.