For some time now, I have been arguing that universal access to the Internet has changed political reality in the sense that politics has become the most democratic in history, which means that idiots have risen to power en masse by choosing other idiots. This is a rather sad effect of the universal access to apparent knowledge and apparent understanding of the world provided by the web.
Democracy in the pre-internet age has relied primarily on television as a source of information. Television in democratic systems is subject to commercial control, which does not mean that it is or was wise, but the content was selected by professionals who were also intelligent and internally delineated the limits of truth and lies. At the same time, relatively sophisticated leaders were the source of political positions in democratic systems. There were many cynical people among them, but ultimately they searched for a pragmatic compromise based on a common understanding of the elementary reasons of the system.
There is no obligation on the Internet to keep the limits of truth and lies, because the Internet is extremely democratic.
This democracy based on television and on universally accepted authorities provided a kind of stability in the fact that most people had a choice of several views, supported by individual television channels and individual political and political authorities.
On the one hand, the widespread availability of the Internet leads to the disappearance of unambiguous sources of knowledge about the world and forces many people to make decisions about what they think on their own. Those who do not use the Internet to obtain information about the world, in the case of Poland, rely on one information channel, such as Polish television, because all other sources of knowledge are available in a manner similar to the functioning of the Internet and create a similar difficulty in selecting information. The place of the government television propaganda channel is a phenomenon in the general democratization of political processes, not particularly characteristic of developed democracies (like many other phenomena in the local state).
The availability of the Internet means that everyone “can” consider what they want and will not be condemned for it, because on the Internet they will find the view and its justification exactly in the form they are looking for. Obviously, such a mechanism works because, in most cases, we are not looking for knowledge that could change our beliefs, but we are looking for knowledge that will confirm these beliefs. Such democracy is about the fact that no one has to fear what he thinks, which has happened in the past. If, for example, a PiS supporter would ever feel uncomfortable suspecting that his view about refugees or homosexuals would be regarded by commonly available sources of knowledge as backward, not too liberal or simply primitive, now he will find any number of views on the Internet. consistent with his beliefs and information confirming the “rightness” of his beliefs.
Surely, parochialists and chauvinists will describe this phenomenon as the overthrow of the information monopoly of educators, and it must be admitted that this is, in a sense, true.
In any case, also in this case, Polish television, as well as available Internet sources, play the role of confirming the previous elections and do not influence the voter’s initial political choice at all, but only confirm the choice already made. Hence, such a blunt petrification of the political system in many countries.
In the past, such a choice, if it was inconsistent with one of several main currents or especially when it was made against the obviously progressive line of civilization development (progressive in the understanding of education, of course, even the line drawn by the dominant countries of the European Union) could be a source of shame, or so-called embarrassment. I imagine that, for example, supporting the resolutions of the “LGBT free zone” in individual communes in the pre-Internet era would be condemned by the vast majority of opinion leaders of various types, while the Internet allows for any number of confirmations that such a resolution is “good” because it corresponds to “National tradition” and is consistent with the teaching of the Church (I am always captivated by the role of the celibate Catholic Church as a source of knowledge about human sexuality).
In an Internet democracy, each view is equally “right”, which means that it is very difficult to convince anyone of anything, including the fact that even the argument about harming oneself or the obvious immorality of individual views is ineffective. This explains the mass vote for idiots like Trump or such ambiguous figures as Kaczynski. In the past, there were exactly as many fools among voters as there are now, but the internet has made stupidity legitimate.
In the Internet, you can find any conspiracy theory on any topic, justifying the fact that refugees spread disease, Poland adds to the EU, and Gazeta Wyborcza is controlled by the Germans to the death of the Polish nation. Every “truth” on the internet looks exactly the same in terms of packaging, anyone can make a WordPress blog that looks the same as a newspaper, and if that is what it looks like, why would it be false?
The disappearance of real opinion authorities is an obvious consequence of the universal availability of all possible views, for if it is the voter who chooses the source of knowledge in accordance with what he previously believes, why would he be persuaded to anything? If he no longer likes the source he has liked so far, he will change the source. This “source” itself, i.e. a politician who managed to reach voters (although in fact they did reach him), if he is at least a little intelligent, he will not undertake the crazy mission of persuading them to anyone because he knows well that these voters they have a different, similar view to choose from, and if they are too much pushed to change their own beliefs, they will choose someone else, with my views oppressive and closer to what we already believe.
Thus, while politicians have traditionally been highly opportunistic, at the moment their opportunism is a natural reaction to the unlimited choice of “right” views that a moderately smart voter has at hand. The only thing that saves politics is that his voter is so stupid and does not care enough that for the sake of peace he will accept, at least for some time, this and not another politician, because he simply does not have enough intellectual space to change it.
Of course, the internet does not just meet stupid expectations, but the selection of beliefs chosen to be believed is based on the “pre-internet” or “off-internet” level of voter education. The problem is whether they have implanted any basis for the selection of available information, not necessarily even in terms of the values they favor, but in terms of credibility, purely formal logic. These are the tools that make it possible to distinguish lies from the truth, short-term interest, even one’s own, and long-term interest. The internet is an option and the choice of what we take from it depends on other elements of our education. The fact that so many young people took part in the current street protests and the fact that these protests were so “non-Internet” intelligent and saturated with individual imaginations indirectly informs that primitive choice on the Internet does not have to outweigh the wise one either.
Every little success of maturity over simplicity, wisdom over primitive stupidity or good, over evil, such as the choice of Biden in these times should be noted not as something obvious, but as a chance that Internet democracy gives us all for survival.
The long-term chance is an increase in elementary criticism of the “knowledge” that can be acquired on the Internet, although to tell you the truth, I do not know very well where this criticism would come from. Perhaps, just as viewers have learned in the past to decode the lies sold on television (at least some have learned), so will they learn to recognize them online.
However, it is a long and bumpy road.