Thursday, April 2, 2015

Internet resonance can be destructive



     Even though I am using the Internet right now as I write the blog and even though as a computer engineer I owe much of my living because of it,  I can say without a doubt that I absolutely detest it.   It reminds me of a famous video I had to watch in college in an "Introduction to Engineering" course where we watched how bad engineering can have disastrous effects.   Take for example the infamous Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse



     This famous video shows the destructive force wind gusts and "standing waves" can have on a steel and concrete bridge structure.  This happens when the gusts of wind happens to match the natural resonance of the bridge and the wave grows bigger with every little gust of wind.   This resonance builds and builds until finally the bridge cannot take it anymore and it rips apart and collapses into a pile of rubble.

    This is how I feel our world is being ripped apart by the internet and those who think that there little pushing and shoving doesn't do much but when combined with thousands of others pushing and shoving at the same time it can have a disastrous affect on our country and societies foundations.  Every little sarcastic tweet, every little nasty comment in a comment section of a blog or news article, every little hurtful comment on a pizza restaurants Yelp page, every little lie about a person or group of people on Facebook or other social media outlets.   All of these build and build on each other an will eventually lead to our own downfall. Take for example the case of the pizza restaurant under siege because their teenage daughter answered a hypothetical question about if they would cater a gay wedding.  Her answer was sincere and it launched a tirade of hateful comments on Twitter, Yelp and Facebook.   The restaurant has had to close because they could not answer the phone anymore for orders.  Their Yelp page was loaded with bogus ratings and comments.  Even a person from Wisconsin tweeted out if anyone was interested in going down to Indiana to burn the place down.  All this over one innocent comment on a hypothetical situation that would never occur (Really?  Pizza for a gay wedding???)

    In the case of the bridge, the answer to the problem was to design the bridge to interrupt the wind gusts and change its natural resonance frequency to a frequency that was highly unlikely to ever occur in nature.    Maybe such an answer is needed here as well.  Maybe what we need is to have Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools randomly delay our messages to when they are posted so that they do not immediately affect society in destructive manners.   This allows your message to still be posted, but it removes the instant gratification we get that can be so harmful because it feeds our egos to post again and again ... and again!   It will also serve to interrupt our posts destructive effect on others who may see our post and be emboldened to either retaliate or say something even worse. 

    But maybe a better answer is to just turn off social media altogether and live our lives like the world DOESN'T depend on me.   After all isn't that the feeling you get when you are plugged into the internet?   That it all depends on me?   We develop a god-like persona when we flip it on.   I am instantly heard by thousands or even millions.   I can see everything going on in the world.   I am prayed to by thousands of "followers".  I am loved (or at least "liked") by many people.   I can make myself into an expert on any subject with a simple click into Wikipedia and a quick perusal of the first paragraph without needing to dig to deep into the content.  Along with this god-like feeling of omnipotence, I have the added feeling of superiority over all who disagree with me because I am not alone either for there are many other gods like myself who also agree with me because we all read the same websites that reinforce our views.

    Maybe we just need to chill and be nice to one another again before this bridge falls apart.