Wednesday, August 17, 2016

People on the Internets are Horrible

I don't mean to diminish what the author of this piece has gone through.  There are a lot of horrible people on the internet who do things that range from mean but mostly harmless to fear for your life threatening, and that shit really needs to stop, but, I'm sorry, your bad experience with people on the internet is not representative of the bulk of society nor does it mean that the US has not gotten more tolerant.

There is probably a pretty sound defense of the position that we haven't gotten more tolerant (particularly towards Muslims and darker skinned immigrants), but what I think is actually happening is that while the internet has made it possible through anonymity and global reach for like-minded haters to find each other, the Trump campaign (in particular) has made those intolerant among us feel more free to express that intolerance both online and even without the protection of the anonymous internet.

I think that the Black Lives Matter movement is actually being heard in a way that would not have happened 20-30 years ago (yes, the prevalence of video is helping this).  Sexism and related issues are being taken more seriously.  I don't think anyone would argue that gay people are not better off today than in the 80's (or 90's, or even the 00's).  In the past couple years even trans people are getting more respect than they have outside of a John Waters film since...well, ever.  I would not be surprised if Muslims and Latinos are groups that face greater intolerance than they would have in the 90's (probably more so for Muslims).  Even for those cases, however, there doesn't seem to be much evidence that it isn't just a fairly small group that is much louder than they used to be, rather than a larger fraction of the population.

Racism, sexism, xenophobia, et cetera are not gone, but we really do seem to be getting better across the board, especially among the youngs.  That there are horrible people on the internet doesn't really change that and neither does Trump.

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