Why The Internet Divided Us And Why It Will Save Us

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

Vast volumes have been, and will be written, about all the divisions of society caused by the one technology so many thought would unite humanity. The internet. It gets all the blame for enabling social media, dopamine addiction, terrible advertising (that’s true) and well, so much more. But should we be blaming the technology?

The internet didn’t divide humanity. Social media didn’t create dopamine addictions and the desperate desire for a digital detox. Nor did it create trolls, cyberbullies and those most annoying digital creatures of all, influencers.

Humans did. Enabled by culture, which has been around for well, a few hundred thousand years in various forms and degrees. All technologies, ever since the stone tools our human predecessors created and we inherited and evolved, have been imagined by humans.

First I will look at culture and the role it plays. This to understand how we got to where we are. Then I will look at how these technologies will also save us. It may seem dark right now, but we’ve been here before in our history. The future is brighter.

The Role of Culture and Technology

We can bring the divisiveness we’re experiencing via the internet down to one word; culture.

I’ve written before on how how humans use culture as our methodology, our Operating System (OS) if you’re more technologically minded, in order to survive. Biological evolution plays a key role in human evolution, always will, but it just isn’t fast enough. Especially when it was very cold during the ice age and we’d not yet invented central heating. There was no app for that. So, we imagined culture through socializing. I’m drastically shortening human evolution here.

Suffice to say, that humans’ use of culture, is critical to our very survival on this rather hostile, wobbly, muddy and watery planet. And technology is our sidekick. Our very best of friends, more than a dog. For good and bad. It just is. No technology, no humans. Simple as that.

So what it comes down to is, how we use technology, individually and societally via culture. Our individual use is very often influenced by several aspects of culture such as norms, traditions and customs. We’ve…

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Giles Crouch | Digital Anthropologist

Digital Anthropologist | Chief Innovation Officer | I'm in WIRED, Forbes & National Geographic etc.