I’ve been hearing the same sentiments by a lot of people over the last few months in different types of language. Some say The Internet is Shit. Some others say that Virtual Community has died. Without wanting to doubt the good intentions and aspiration of all the people who want to make more of the world in which they live, I can tell you right now why the internet matters and why it is not shit. While it’s true that people around the world are lamenting that there’s not enough of ‘precisely the right kind of information’ to finish their term-papers, the internet is more important than that. Take for example the case of support groups for gay and lesbian teenagers. Gay teenagers are two to three times to attempt suicide and two to three times more likely to succeed – and why? Because they think they’re completely alone in the world and they have no way of connecting with other gay teenagers. Over the last few years that’s all changed – I’ve seen it happening. Gay teenagers are exploring over the internet first – they’re finding other people like themselves, getting advice and support and connecting to a wider community. Hopefully the result will be less death, less depression and less wasted years.
And here are some other reasons why the internet is not shit and why virtual community is not dead: alcoholism, disabilities, addiction, mental health, prostate cancer, teen health… I could go on all day. Frankly, I don’t care who thinks I’m nuts or an evangelist or whatever, but as far as I’m concerned the internet has improved people’s lives, helped them understand and deal with health problems, eased depression, connected the lonely and the disconnected and been a fount of information on pretty much every subject in the world. I don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks about it – I’m proud of it and proud of my tiny corner of it.