I have a love-hate relationship with humanity, really. I love individual persons, or at least, more than I do groups of people. The geomantic figure Populus, for instance, demonstrates my reason fairly well: it represents a mass of people, as well as total passivity. Whatever energy is put into the figure turns the whole mass into that energy; all it requires for action is some stimulus, after which the whole thing follows through. The problem is making sure the stimulus is the correct one, which is always harder than it sounds. Individual people, on the other hand, are better represented by Populus’ inverse, Via: it is a symbol of solitude, but also of complete change. Within one’s self, they have all the energy and direction to accomplish anything. Again, the problem is that they need the right direction, but more often than not, the effects of many people are more strongly felt than one person.
I was reading an article on how fragile the Internet was (a post on that coming soon!), and one of the things listed was how the Internet is quickly becoming a big box store. Take, for example, Facebook. Its Facebook Connect program allows people with a valid Facebook login to use a variety of other services such as AIM, Hulu, Digg, Blogger, Twitter, and so forth. This article talks at length about how this is becoming more and more the case. Essentially, Facebook is following a “one-stop shop” model on the Internet. Convenient? Certainly! Helpful? That remains to be seen.
Something I can always count on in humanity is its collective ignorance; even when some people rightly point out the correct way to do things, or when others do the wrong thing and should be noticed for it, the majority of people ignore the lesson and continue doing something the way they have been. Take, for example, the article posted above. Since its primary topic is on Facebook logins, one may search (on Google or Bing or what have you) “facebook login”. Normally, this query would be reserved to find the actual Facebook login page, which is what many people apparently did. Observing the comments (almost 50 pages), the vast majority of them are people confused about “Facebook’s new layout” and wondering why it won’t let them log in.
Yes, most people mistook that blog site for the Facebook login page because they were looking for “facebook login”. They were so confused that they found the comment box and posted their concerns or anger at not being able to log in. They were so confused that they didn’t read the other comments explaining that this wasn’t, in fact, Facebook, nor did they read the giant warning in bold text at the beginning of the article explaining that this was, nor was it ever, Facebook. Massive groan.
My housemate had a similar story: her mother was trying to login to Facebook, but was at her GMail login screen. My friend was utterly confused at what her mother was trying to do, and her mother explained that Facebook sends her emails. Thus, her email must be Facebook. Or something like this; the apparent logic is lost on me.
I suppose a number people have forgotten that the Internet is more than just the WWW, and that the WWW is more than just Google’s services or Facebook. Or, probably a better rephrasing of this is that most people never understood this in the first place. The Internet is not, at its heart, a profound secret held under pain of death: it is a collection of networks based directly off human systems and previous technological systems that people, by and large, already understand. That so many people continue to be illiterate (metaphorically and literally, judging on people’s grammar and spelling) is shocking, and I wonder sometimes how many places manage to continue running without total collapse.