Law in the Internet Society

The Impact of the Internet on Culture

-- By DanielleThomas - 28 Nov 2011

The Internet is a powerful tool that provides the world's knowledge at a user's fingertips, but it also provides a channel to facilitate the continuing shift in culture of what is normal or appropriate behavior, our values and norms.

The second half of the sentence means "communicates more than information," so the whole sentence means that the Internet carries "culture," which is the symbolic content of human social action.

The Internet has provided a platform for the celebrity gossip industry to explode into an even more lucrative industry than past years.

From the most general to one very particular. Also from the sublime to the ridiculous. Don't you need to explain to us why this dizzying swoop in what is supposed to be the expression of the essay's primary theme? And, if we're going to get so particular, what is the evidence for the relative lucrativeness of celebrity gossip? How do I know it wasn't more profitable in the era of Water Winchell and Louella Parsons? Or, for that matter the Correspondence Secrète?

Celebrity gossip has increased the thirst for fame, as well as brought out the mean streaks in others.

Here are two more highly uncertain generalizations presented as axioms requiring no demonstration whatever. The "thirst for fame," or "frenzy of renown" (which Leo Braudy stole for the title of his cultural history of fame, which you don't refer to and probably didn't find in the course of your preparation to write this essay) is a complex set of emotions with a rather long history. One might wonder, indeed, whether it goes back to early eukaryotes, but at any rate it's been with humans pretty much all the way along. Are you sure that it has been increased in the last few milliseconds by celebrity gossip on the Internet. I think I might want more than a single social psychology study of small children to substantiate such a proposition, particularly because the children involved seem less thirsty of renown than, say, Spartan children. Despite the relative absence of celebrity gossip in ancient Sparta. I don't have the faintest idea how you come to the conclusion about the mean streaks either, but let's leave that for later.

Celebrity Gossip

Before the Internet to get up to date information on what celebrities were doing people turned to magazines and MTV.

That's only the last twenty milliseconds. There was no doubt gossip in Sumer. We have a pretty large collection of Roman gossip, and at least some ideas about Egyptian gossip. We know something pretty solid about gossip in Heian Japan. Are you sure that sufficient context for thinking on this subject is provided by going all the way back to Stone Age MTV?

There was only so much media landscape available to dedicate to the every movement of celebrities. Now there are millions of blogs and websites dedicated to celebrities in general, and some geared toward a particular. With this proliferation, it seems that fame is much more attainable.

Really? It sounds like you're saying that a larger number of human beings are paying intensive attention to a smaller number of more artificially enlarged human beings than ever before. Perhaps either fame does not seem more attainable, or it does for other reasons? Perhaps, indeed, the democratization of fame and the final efflorescence of celebrity culture in proprietary media are forces in conflict, not aspects of the same development?


And for some it is. Take for instance, Justin Bieber. He posted several videos of him performing at local showcases and singing various cover songs on YouTube? . After the music executive came across Bieber’s videos, he flew Bieber out to have a meeting with Usher. The rest is history.

Not to me. I know history. History is a friend of mine. This isn't history. This is gossip. But how is this story different structurally from the story of Lana Turner's being "discovered" in a drugstore?

But for every Justin Bieber, there are thousands of Toshbabyboos. A Girl Scouts study found that one in four teen girls expects--not aspires--to be famous in the future.

Two generations ago, it was only boys who felt this way. That's an improvement. But what does it tell us except that the optimism and energy of youth can now be shared by the half of humanity that used to be told to expect only "womens' work"?

A UCLA study asserts that young children value being famous as number one, when it in 1997 it was ranked fifteenth. There is likely an intrinsic desire to be recognized worldwide for an impressive feat or talent. The quest for fame has likely long been a part of American culture. Andy Warhol said it best that “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

Are you sure you're understanding him correctly? I think that immense thief may have put one over on you.

Now websites like Youtube have turned this aspiration into an attainable goal.


In addition to fame now being a high-ranking value, the Internet changes how users interact with each other. The thin veil of privacy allows people to be meaner. In the celebrity gossip world this takes place both on the content provider side and the user. Mediatakeout, one of the more scandalous gossip sites, is a prime example of how this plays out. Exhibit A is a jab at sixteen year old Kendall Jenner for her inability to dance. Exhibit B is a dig at Brooke Shields for her appearance as she ages. In response to Exhibit A, users commented Jenner’s lack of talent, her weight, and appearance. One user kindly added: “Um hummmm.... Look like she having a damn seizure! See this is what happens when you have money and some celebrity no one EVER tells you the truth so you go on in life thinking you are the greatest at everything when in reality you suck Big Time! She appears to never practice her routines with her awkward movements. [...] I'm just saying and Not hating on NEPOTISM at all!!” A user in response to Exhibit B stated, “Typical old Dog-faced bytch lol......she looks more like a 14 year old golden retriever though.”

I don't understand what trolling has to do with celebrity gossip. I also don't think you've given me the slightest reason to believe that trolling has increased. There are trouble-makers and bad drunks in every collection of human beings. Insult competitions are a feature of more human cultures than I can count offhand. I don't think anyone who has read through even the smallest part of the plea roll explosion in defamation in the English courts in the 16th century could be convinced that YouTube comments represent an increase in human meanness. If you're really going to argue that some change is being caused by unique circumstances, you need to show the reader that these are more than shot-from-the-hip editorial generalizations.

As previously suggested, one of the reasons that exacerbates the meanness problem is the sense of anonymity people feel on the Internet. Like users of the popular website, Second Life, with every Internet profile created a user can develop his or her own persona.

What has this to do with Second Life. Immersive environments like SL, where there's a large investment of time and effort required to create and endow one's avatar, are outstandingly poor places for trolls. If you marginalize your character in SL, you're just destroying your own investment. Whatever immersive environments do or do not have going for them in the long run as a vehicle for multi-entity communications, they don't suffer much from the phenomena you're apparently discussing here.

The quiet girl in the real world can become the mean girl online. The mean girl can become even meaner.

"Can" is not the standard here. You're not in any position to rest on mere possibility. You can't say you are right because you could be right.

You're apparently arguing that verbal rudeness and offensive jeering is (a) more prevalent and (b) more problematic because it can occur in the Web. The problem with this argument is the immense length and counter-evidentiary value of all the human history it ignores. What do you think the street in Babylon or Harappa sounded like?

On the one hand, the Internet provides an outlet for a part of a user’s personality they do not get to share in the real world. Everyone should be free to express their emotions, but flaming others on the Internet may not be the appropriate channel.

Once again, this "may not" forms no argument, because no proposition is strengthened by what "may be." Instead, it just sounds like a prissy personal moral judgment.

Additionally, the lack of true consequences is missing. In reality if you were tell something they looked like a dog (that is if you had the courage), the other person would react.

Trolling does cause reaction. That's why trolls do it.

The lack of reaction by another is another reason for the increase in meanness of Internet users.

Unestablished, this increase in meanness.

On message boards, two users posting in a thread can quickly escalate from a friendly conversation to a malicious verbal war. Without the ability to see another’s user body language, reactions and intonation, it is easy to misread another’s statement. A forum post asking others whether they had received spam e-mail purporting to be from Amazon turned into quarrel after one user overreacts to another's somewhat dismissive but not antagonizing response.

What has any of this to do with "meanness"? Most of my relatives were murdered in the 20th century, generally because mean people shot them with machine guns, although occasionally mean people starved them to death or killed them with hydrogen cyanide gas. I find it very difficult to believe, given that similar forms of meanness are still going on, that you really believe that the Internet's effect on meanness is measurable, or that it can be measured in units like these. Would that the nature of human cruelty extended no further than the breaking of these butterflies on such wheels.


The Internet is a powerful tool. It provided a platform that helped to overthrow Mubarak in Egypt. However as with all good things, there are negatives.

This is the scope of what the title promises us is a consideration of "the impact of the Internet on culture"? Not only are we to assimilate all at once the blindingly jejune proposition that silver linings are inside clouds, but the balance of the Internet is (a) free elections in Egypt, and (b) celebrity gossip? Surely the reader can be forgiven for thinking this isn't a serious undertaking.

Two examples of the downside of the Internet can be seen in the cultural shifts to fame as a prized value. Additionally people leverage the Internet's anonymity to be meaner in their interactions with others to a degree that they might not reach in the real world. Internet will play a large role in redefining culture. Hopefully these examples do not become ingrained in society that we pass on to future generations.

It seems fair to believe that both gossip and trolling are likely to remain persistent human behaviors for the remainder of the existence of the human race. How we would "uningrain" them for the first time neither you nor I nor anyone else has an idea. So?

It seems to me that the route to improvement here is to return to the outline, and to the animating idea. State the theme in a sentence at the top of the outline, and then direct a careful editorial eye to each proposition you advance to unpack or explain the theme, and to each inference or consequence you identify. Relate the conclusion, whatever it is, to the theme and the development you've given it. Only when the outline is fully tested should you begin to rewrite.


Webs Webs

r5 - 04 Sep 2012 - 22:02:23 - IanSullivan
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