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What impact is the internet having on our culture?
Hello fellow agnostics, today I am interested in your ideas on the impact of the internet on culture ; local, global, personal.
Some ideas for discussion ( all other discussion points very welcome) ;

  • Is the internet democratising access to and ability to share information?
  • What is the impact of the increased information flows and how do individuals react to this in practice?
    Looking forward to your insights.
SueZ 5 June 29

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internet and culture are like cream in coffee; the more you stir it up, the more of each you lose. My personal experience is that i left behind a large, extended family in 1970 at barely 18 and moved to australia. In those early years a decent phone call to mum cost about a hundred dollars; hate to think what that would be now. Lost touch with most of the family over the years and it was only internet that brought us back together. That and faster aeroplanes. 🤓

StJohn Level 6 June 30, 2018

I like the Aussies and Kiwis... they’re a lot like us except they haven’t lost their moral compass... 3 cheers for Down under


Internet has definitely broadened access to information, but the signal to noise ratio is terrible. There is so much misreporting, misinformation, and outright deception that it's harmful. I lecture at a university and so many of our undergrads have no idea how to find reliable information online when they first arrive, they are used to having teachers tell them good sources but what they really need is to learn how to find them themselves.

I wouldn't say that the internet has truly democratised access to knowledge either, it's alright for people in developed countries with the infrastructure to make internet access affordable, but what about people in developing nations? What about the death of net neutrality in the US? These are major obstacles.

@SueZ I suppose that people in the developing world that can access the internet are potentially far more info rich than they would have been before the internet, as are we all, but to my mind wealth barriers and democratised access don't peacefully coexist.


It has made the world vastly smaller. We can video chat with anybody anywhere on the planet at any time. The flow of information-or misinformation-is at your fingertips at anytime. You can meet and marry anybody from any part of the world. You can get anything and have it shipped to your house without setting foot outside. Books and newspapers are giving way to digital models. An ex got her B.A. and masters in library science on line.The library she ran she turned into a community/senior center with books
But wherever you have good, you will have bad. I don't call it the misinformation superhighway for nothing. Nut cases will put garbage on the web and have friends put up false praise for things that are total lies to sell their product that is a total fraud. Just con artists selling snake oil to take your money. The sky is the limit and the hole is very deep. The trick is telling the two apart.
Then there's entertainment. I can listen to any radio station anywhere around the world. All I have to do is tell my voice interface (where was that 5 years ago?- nonexistent) to play such and such radio station and I'm listening to a station from Europe as clear as can be. TV and movies-anytime, anywhere. You have a good wi-fi and your off to the races.


Several good results..people can skip the control freak doorkeepers and find out natural cures for themselves instead of having to trust the Big Pharm-colluding, toxic-drug-pushing western doctors.

People can skip the similarly control freakish, evil record companies and take their original music directly to the people, through YouTube videos.

People can skip paying extortion prices for text books and get all the information they want for free, online. Same for getting university degrees, finding jobs, finding a mate, etc.

It's giving power back to the people.


I would like to say the internet has had a profound impact on our culture. Never in history has it been easier to have your voice be heard. Now wether your message is good or bad for the world is another story. I think individuals who want to learn from others will do so and those that want to entertain for entertainment sake will do so as well.


being atheist are spread out, it gives community to those that feel isolated. some times it gets those people together that would never have meet otherwise.
its is a great way to check out information floating around the news, or claimed by people in general, you can fact check with ease.
it has been a great source of my continued education. from classes from stanford and yale on youtube, to the insites of other atheist, either in debate or a lecture, or even a show like a+e in austin tx. just to name a few.


While the detailed implications are still yet to be seen, some of what we are experiencing today was anticipated. While the internet has sped up communication as well as simplified it, the ability to discern signal from noise is only just now coming into play.

At first, it was finding relevant information that was the challenge. Search engines like Google helped us to organize the internet into useful and relevant information per our interests. Facebook and other social media helped us to connect socially and to find like-minded people.

The new challenge is to discern facts from purposeful disinformation. This is especially difficult because we as human beings often have had trouble discerning facts/lies before having access to such a seemingly infinite pool of information. Our ability to discern legitimate patterns from false positives is already dubious (we have to have a site for the non-religious after all). We also want to be able to question the assumptions of the group so as to prevent blind conformity or group think. This is a tough balance to achieve.

In short, I think the internet is like any other technology: it is a force multiplier. It is the big lever for our curiosity... the big hammer for our social brutality... it's a tool that allows us to amplify who we are and currently it does so regardless of how useful or worthwhile the sentiment we express. The next step is to place values on what we deem worth amplification.

@SueZ Thanks!

As for whose values... I'm thinking it could be one of two things. I might lose you here because this may sound a bit too sci-fi meets tin foil hat. But I think it will either be totalitarian or controlled via AI. Neither are without complications.

The totalitarian option? Well, we are starting to try that now. While Trump isn't a total despot, it's looking like he has no problem discrediting things that are provably true. He works to discredit a media, which has had its own problems, beyond what is helpful. However, It isn't working. People know this and hate him. Most that don't hate him are going to be left behind because they aren't adapting socially. He isn't the first person to try to steer people's adoption of facts. All the others have failed and I don't see him coming at it with new tools. New media - old tactics that didn't work.

So, AI? I'm convinced that humanity is coming to a point where it has to evolve beyond war and conflict. Technology is making war too effective - the waste of resources and death aren't worth it. War is rooted in the devices that helped us survive to this point, but they have to be reined in. Either we do it from inside (social awareness, cultural appreciation of peace, constructive expressions of anger, fear, rage) or it will happen from the outside (drugs, genetic manipulation). I'm convinced that the second one will be part of an expanded general AI. This intelligence will look back at its creators and see the flaws. It will deduce this obvious fact: conflict is inefficient and useless. It misuses resources that could be used for exploration, discovery, and solving problems. While war has driven our technology in many ways, it is ultimately a waste. A choice will have to be made: evolve socially or through manipulation. The proverbial gun will be placed at our heads and we will be asked to choose (if you call that a choice).

So, I think the implications of the internet and it's ability to act like a mirror to humanity point in the direction of some pretty intense things: some of them kind of dystopian.

Hopefully, my little exploration into my thoughts has been worth the read.


Are you looking to write a thesis for your doctorate? You've picked a subject with no shortage of opinions!

I think of the internet as a maze of information - a beautiful highway that most people take for granted and too few people know how to use to get where they really need to go, or do what they really need to do.
On one hand there are researchers on one side of the world communicating with scientists on the other side to find cures for diseases we've never heard of - or so we've been led to think. On the other, there are young people insulting and harassing others until they kill themselves in frustration and all of their parents say "but my child has always been a really sweet kid and could never have done anything like that" even though the ugliness is there in black and white, or pink and purple with polka dots and emojis.

There are Youtube videos of people who could be your neighbors, or who look like people you've seen in your local grocery store, and suddenly you see them spouting profanities at someone speaking another language on the phone, just because they are speaking another language. The man tells the woman on the phone to learn to speak English or go back to her own country where she belongs. The woman looks up and says to him in perfect English,"I do speak English, this is my country, I was speaking Navajo to my Grandmother!" He threw his arms up and walked away. There are millions of others, each more ridiculous than the last. The sad thing is that so many hours are spent trolling for nonsense.

So little time spent on learning things like there is a 16-year-old student that brought her science teacher a potential discovery for research into treating a certain type of cancer, and that she did this all on her own.
Photographs of outer space, and inner space, and beneath the ocean can be seen with the click of a mouse.

But I've been looking for a reasonably priced 3BR apartment for 2 months now, and no luck! Such is the internet!

@SueZ I actually think that the internet has had a lot to do with the polarity of political thinking of late, and the Republican vs. Democrat - you have to be one or the other - kind of rhetoric going around. It becomes much easier for the propagandists to hawk their wares when they can use the shock-value cliches they have been putting in the headlines lately.

Another avenue I think we should persue is making sure to not only tell our children not to believe everything they read on the internet, but not to believe everything they hear on the street, or see on their phones. Lets teach them to question authority - not to the point of anarchy, but to the point of truth. And to study history so they don't repeat it like the leaders of today are doing. Do you think Big Brother will be taking me away in the middle of the night?

@SueZ I'm from USA, so not sure if all my references apply, but hope you got my drift


Are you familiar with the term "population bottleneck"? We're already entering one. It's not just the Internet and social media, but much of the sum of technology has created a world so stressful to so many people that many find it unsurvivable. It will get worse. Likely much worse. By the time we get past it - if we get past it - much of the inability to tolerate the stresses of technology will have been eliminated from the population

Hello SueZ, Here in America we're threatening each other with murder and mayhem daily on social media. We have a pseudo-president, falsely elected with Russian help, who won't stop lying and threatening and degrading people on Twitter. People are angry and they're looking to settle the score with the people they perceive to be to blame. There is constant talk of insurrection and/or civil war. Several of the mass shooters we've had have been driven to their murderous acts by social media. I think it will just keep getting worse because there is nothing make it get better but it will get worse on its own. Having people eventually die off from lack of ability to cope is about the only thing I can think of that has the potential to make things any better.


That's a big subject !!


I just spent 2 weeks almost entirely without "the internet"; felt like I was on a desert island. The only connection I could make was at a pizza place up the road.

We get so much information, entertainment, and personal links/ties through this medium that to be without it is almost debilitating for someone without a social network beyond the ether.

More than anything, it is very frustrating trying to get anything done in a "new" environment. The reason I had no service was that I moved on 6/15 to my new digs and couldn't get any WiFi service until yesterday, 7/3 (due in part to my own stubbornness).

As far as what and how the i-net impacts us socially and informationally, I'm very ambivalent on that point. We can allow it to isolate us, or we can reach out through it; we can get good, or bad, information through, as much or as little as we desire. It's a tool, but a very double-edged, sword-like tool. It can bed used positively, or maliciously; it can connect people, or tear them apart.

We all witnessed what happened a few short years back with the Arab Spring phenomenon. That pretty clearly demonstrated how powerful the internet can be; along with ancillary communications systems/media. Probably the purest, most beautiful uses for this medium, at least that I have witnessed are the educational (academic) potential, and the worldwide synchronicity of musicianship as found in the Youtube videos of players globally rhapsodizing harmoniously in real time.


I think more than anything else, the Internet is a powerful tool -- and like any tool, it's all about how it's used. That being said, it's also a tool that keeps evolving, so it remains to be seen how it ultimately changes and/or impacts society -- which means remaining aware and alert.


Nearly everyone can up with truly simple but great answers now I have to hate them all.....


That’s to heavy and intelligent a question.... I think I hate you ( with all due respect )



Interesting article in light of this conversation.


It's changing our society dramatically, and sometimes in ways we could not have anticipated but can only begin to understand with hindsight after the fact.

In some ways it resembles a kind of dawning superintelligence for the planet, an awakening of Gaia in a sense; although a superintelligence with a fair share of dark corners and psychoses underneath it all; very human in a way.

There are two other massive changes to our society which I see happening; one is ever-increasing longevity and medical care, and the other I see in the horizon is the development of full AI and artificial sentience. In the next 10 to 20 years or so I expect that to change our world totally, a bit like the Internet revolution and the smartphone revolution but x10 or x100 on those.

And I very much agree with the poster who mentioned Gutenberg and movable type; very similar technology revolution, but one difference is because it's always exponential (maybe doubly exponential even) the timescales for change are much smaller now, and perhaps for the first time ever are wrenching our society for good or ill in new directions over an interval much shorter than a generation.

So we are now being forced to learn and adapt in wholly new way during our lifetimes.

Wholy ( get it) shit, there goes someone giving a thoughtful thesis smartly done just what I was really worried about... see what I was conveying. Damn show off

@SueZ In some ways it's a fascinating time to be alive; it looks very much like a huge amount of change is just around the corner.

I think of perhaps a person from say 1650 or 1750 dropped randomly into the 1990s - and I look forward and suspect there might be a similar scale of change happening in a few decades, by mid century or so. I won't be around any more by end century, would love to see what happens but my crystal ball goes a bit murky after 2045 to 2050 or so; till that point I can see some trends, after that anything might happen.

@Millerski25 Should I not answer?



The very fact that this group is having this discussion on line is a positive impact on culture, in my opinion.


Can say at this point I am grateful for it because it has made it possible to meet many people that think like I do via The information age has made more subjects aware it also has polluted information making it misinformation with intent to deceive. We are fortunate here most of our information is not censored and we can get info from many sources to make an informed decision on what is fact or fiction. Not every country has that freedom. The information age has made us more clinical in our romantic decisions and in some respects made the dating aspect more cynical.

azzow2 Level 9 June 30, 2018

"Not every country has that freedom." This country (USA) is becoming a country informed by "fake" news, "alt" news and propaganda. I fear it will only get worse.


I like what Nick Land had to say:

"At the moment I’m completely captivated by the strength of an analogy between the Gutenberg era and the internet era, this rhythmic force coming out of the connection between them. Radical reality destruction went on with the emergence of printing press. In Europe this self-propelling process began, and the consensus system of reality description, the attribution of authorities, criteria for any kind of philosophical or ontological statements, were all thrown into chaos. Massive processes of disorder followed that were eventually kind of settled in this new framework, which had to acknowledge a greater degree of pluralism than had previously existed. I think we’re in the same kind of early stage of a process of absolute shattering ontological chaos that has come from the fact that the epistemological authorities have been blasted apart by the internet. Whether it’s the university system, the media, financial authorities, the publishing industry, all the basic gatekeepers and crediting agencies and systems that have maintained the epistemological hierarchies of the modern world are just coming to pieces at a speed that no one had imagined was possible. The near-term, near-future consequences are bound to be messy and unpredictable and perhaps inevitably horrible in various ways. It is a threshold phenomenon. The notion that there is a return to the previous regime of ontological stabilization seems utterly deluded. There’s an escape that’s strictly analogous to the way in which modernity escaped the ancien régime."

cava Level 7 June 30, 2018

I think its having too much negative impact on how people socialize, Society is already at the point of the least amount of communication with people they don't or hardly know. And the creation of a these different types of Dating sites are not a good thing, so many exist, that its difficult to know which ones actually a re legit

@SueZ this was a well wrote out response, thanks for sharing your thoughts, bullying whether in real life or Cyber is very cowardly, thats how i feel about it...


Much too early to say. Any predictions from say 20 years ago were quickly seen to be unimaginitive.

Salo Level 7 June 30, 2018

@SueZ I do have a hunch that we'll see some big changes to language and maybe even the way language evolves. Through the limitation of expression in the written word we've seen the rise and acceptance (sometimes reluctantly) of emoticons and abbreviations, perhaps aaccelerated by the uptake by the younger generations who's previous communication of choice was a phone rather than a pen and paper. I've also seen locally, in Liverpool, conversations that are spelt in the local accent. (A no be dat wozn on woz der ne1 cud elp, translation: I know Beryl that wasn't on was there anyone could help) I get the drift of it, but a kid in London couldn't understand them and vice versa. Its weird in these days of globalisation, shrinking planets and mass communication an example of things effectively going backward!! Autocorrect seems viewed like a walking stick to the young, and maybe its just a matter of time before "defiantly" gets in the dictionary as a word meaning "certainly"


I would like to say the internet has had a profound impact on our culture. Never in history has it been easier to have your voice be heard. Now wether your message is good or bad for the world is another story. I think individuals who want to learn from others will do so and those that want to entertain for entertainment sake will do so as well.


All this information and being able to communicate is a good thing . The affect its having on children could potentially be devastating.oh and it's making can I see your manager mom's way to brave!!!!

Simon1 Level 7 June 30, 2018

@SueZ its more the social media , youtube and the gaming apps that are the cause of the problems . Social media the like whoring and cyberbullying . The constant need for compliments on their looks .youtube showing kids unwrapping toys making them little consumers . Then the gaming making them little addicts with no attentin span. Used for knowledge Just like anything when used correctly can be tremendous benefit


I would like to say the internet has had a profound impact on our culture. Never in history has it been easier to have your voice be heard. Now wether your message is good or bad for the world is another story. I think individuals who want to learn from others will do so and those that want to entertain for entertainment sake will do so as well.

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