On the Internet, Attention Is Power

Arnox

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#1
There's a scene in the first Pirates of the Carribean where Will Turner gets uppity with Captain Jack and Will gets slammed in the chest with a mast before being dangled precariously over the ocean. Then Jack proceeds to give Will Turner a lecture about what really matters out there. That the normal rules that society and civilization have programmed us with fall away when you're in the middle of nowhere. "What a man can do and what a man can't do."

Similarly, the normal rules of society also tend fall away on the internet. But instead of just coming down to "what a man can do and what a man can't do", on the seas of cyberspace, it all comes down to one VERY important thing, mate. And that is attention.

When you have a teeming network of BILLIONS of people, all viewing, communicating, and talking... When you have a space that can have an infinite number of things created, deleted, uploaded, and downloaded... When you have a place where physical interaction of course isn't possible at all and your identity comes down to an IP address, rules change. Goals change. For better and for worse. What you saying isn't entirely important anymore. It's about how many people are looking and listening.

This is why people like Anita Sarkeesian, although incredibly hated, still have so much influence on the internet. It's because people GAVE them that influence, willingly or no. If Anita says one day that a website is incredibly sexist, that website gets views. If Kim Kardashian says she likes some particular brand, those brand sales skyrocket.

Love... Hate... It doesn't matter on the internet. If they get the views, if they get the attention, they have power. This is how things work. On the internet, ATTENTION IS POWER. In the past, it used to not be nearly as big a deal since the internet was, of course, rather small. Now though, people have to choose every single day what they view and what they do not. And as the internet gets ever bigger, that decision will become ever more important.

So next time you're about to devote some Twitter space to some celebrity you hate, think twice. What do you think would really be harmful to them in the long run? A venomous post that points attention to them or simply just not writing anything at all and ignoring them?
 

Houseman

The Actual Hero
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#2
If you had millions of eyes on your internet presence, what would you do with them? Would you use them to turn a profit through ads, streaming, youtube, etc? Would you attempt to influence them to some cause or ideal that you consider worthy?


I don't think I'd want that power. I'd throw it away. Sooner or later it's going to collapse on you, and then your reputation will be ruined in proportion to the height of your popularity.


With "normal" fame, of course you'll have your haters, but it seems to be easier to retire while still being thought of as "good", unless you do something illegal and get thrown in jail (Bill Cosby). With internet fame, it seems like nobody comes out clean.


TB is getting lambasted after his death as being "the leader of a harassment campaign", every misstep made by Egoraptor and Jontron of Game Grumps is documented, and you can see the skeletons about them being constructed in real-time. People are trying hard to spread their version of the truth about people like Anita Sarkeesian. It's like everyone is a politician, and it's a race to dig up as much dirt as you can.


This race is, I think, biased in favor of those who have the greater amount of free time to spend on the internet, crafting these narratives, gaining this attention, digging this dirt, and spreading their stories. There's a theory about how middle and lower-class people are too busy working, caring for families, and generally having lives outside of the internet to have any kind of influence. On the other hand, inheritance-rich jobless bloggers have all the time in the world to gain twitter followers and prop themselves up as "influencers". This may explain how, in the case of GamerGate, there was only a handful of people in a position of influence to speak up for gamers.


What I'm trying to say here, is that this power is dirty. To get it, you have to play dirty. To maintain it, you have to roll around in filth. When it's over, you'll come out unclean. The people with whom you're competing against for this power will either poison you directly, or irradiate you by proximity.

Speaking of which, this topic sure has received a lot of views, relative to the other topics on the board.
 

Arnox

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#3
Houseman said:
If you had millions of eyes on your internet presence, what would you do with them? Would you use them to turn a profit through ads, streaming, youtube, etc? Would you attempt to influence them to some cause or ideal that you consider worthy?


I don't think I'd want that power. I'd throw it away. Sooner or later it's going to collapse on you, and then your reputation will be ruined in proportion to the height of your popularity.


With "normal" fame, of course you'll have your haters, but it seems to be easier to retire while still being thought of as "good", unless you do something illegal and get thrown in jail (Bill Cosby). With internet fame, it seems like nobody comes out clean.


TB is getting lambasted after his death as being "the leader of a harassment campaign", every misstep made by Egoraptor and Jontron of Game Grumps is documented, and you can see the skeletons about them being constructed in real-time. People are trying hard to spread their version of the truth about people like Anita Sarkeesian. It's like everyone is a politician, and it's a race to dig up as much dirt as you can.


This race is, I think, biased in favor of those who have the greater amount of free time to spend on the internet, crafting these narratives, gaining this attention, digging this dirt, and spreading their stories. There's a theory about how middle and lower-class people are too busy working, caring for families, and generally having lives outside of the internet to have any kind of influence. On the other hand, inheritance-rich jobless bloggers have all the time in the world to gain twitter followers and prop themselves up as "influencers". This may explain how, in the case of GamerGate, there was only a handful of people in a position of influence to speak up for gamers.


What I'm trying to say here, is that this power is dirty. To get it, you have to play dirty. To maintain it, you have to roll around in filth. When it's over, you'll come out unclean. The people with whom you're competing against for this power will either poison you directly, or irradiate you by proximity.

Speaking of which, this topic sure has received a lot of views, relative to the other topics on the board.
Because I posted it to /r/Technology.

And it really didn't get far at all. lol
 

Signa

Libertarian Contrarian
Messages
594
#4
Is this phenomenon limited to the internet, or is it just a general rule of life? Do we not vote for our politicians based on the attention they get, which translates into power? If we didn't, then the vote would be divided a hundred ways as people vote for every Joe schmo that says they want to run for office.
 

Arnox

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#5
Signa said:
Is this phenomenon limited to the internet, or is it just a general rule of life? Do we not vote for our politicians based on the attention they get, which translates into power? If we didn't, then the vote would be divided a hundred ways as people vote for every Joe schmo that says they want to run for office.
The rule doesn't really apply to life as much as it does to the internet because there's many different goals in life and many different ways to get there. Not to say that it's NOT a factor IRL because it definitely is, although the internet is leaking into our everyday life for sure as well.
 

Signa

Libertarian Contrarian
Messages
594
#6
Arnox said:
Signa said:
Is this phenomenon limited to the internet, or is it just a general rule of life? Do we not vote for our politicians based on the attention they get, which translates into power? If we didn't, then the vote would be divided a hundred ways as people vote for every Joe schmo that says they want to run for office.
The rule doesn't really apply to life as much as it does to the internet because there's many different goals in life and many different ways to get there. Not to say that it's NOT a factor IRL because it definitely is, although the internet is leaking into our everyday life for sure as well.
My interpretation is that the internet allows for a critical mass of attention for the power to become tangible. Being the cool kid at school would be a microcosm of attention=power, but that cool kid won't have any following after he leaves school, thus making that power invalid. That same cool kid could make a post on social media, get mainstream media attention, and then wield power again. Look at David Hogg.
 
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