Through the study of all of these tools and benefits that the Internet provides us Average Joes, we don’t often stop to consider the detrimental effects that this same resource has on our community. In an article on The Great Internet Swindle, Jon Henley touches on the inequality and anger that the Internet perpetuates and exacerbates.
Companies such as Facebook and Amazon are making bank, sure. But this is such a small percent of all Ecommerce. The Great American Digital Dream, as I’ll term it, in which you can make your millions selling macramé on Etsy, isn’t a viable one. The only people making significant profit are the top tier of companies monopolizing the Emarket.
Additionally, these companies are making their profit due to the convenience and low-cost that they offer to consumers. However, these consumers (I’m guilty) rarely, if ever, take the time to think about the exploitation at the other end of the line. Amazon is only so cheap due to the outsourcing of labor to less socioeconomically stable regions and populations. We are not only responsible for our actions as consumers, but also as citizens.
Henley continues on to speak to the positive influence that the Internet has in terms of social action and organization. He recognizes that it serves as a platform to house calls for social change. However, he also asks us to consider its role in eliciting anger from its users. The Internet as a platform often encourages a sort of tribal warfare between opposing sides — strangers lashing out at other strangers or anonymous sources with no tangible effect or resolution.
The relevance of this exercise in thought is found in our reaction to the various convenience and social media tools we use on a regular basis. They are useful resources and certainly make our lives easier, but we at least need to begin to consider its reverberating consequences.