Can We Fix the Internet?

Recently, I clicked on an article on a music website about Gorgio Moroder—one of the original architects of EDM and a recent collaborator on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. I hoped to get information on his new studio album, but as I scrolled down to read the article, I stopped dead in my tracks. In the featured articles sidebar, there was an image that cannot be described as anything other than pornography. I thought “Break the Internet? No, we need to fix the internet.”

Let me reiterate that I was not in any sense looking for pornography. I have no desire to see the photos from the most recent successful attention grab of the latest soft-core celebrity. I was trying to read an article about a 74-year-old music pioneer on a non-pornographic website. And yet, these unsolicited pornographic images were thrust in my face nonetheless. That is disgusting to me. We need to fix the internet. But how?

Let me explain a little about how content producers on the internet decide what to publish. Page views and click throughs. That is all. If you view a page or click to read an article, you are affecting the future of the internet. If an article about some moron’s booty gets millions of page views and an article about the death of federalism gets one hundred, which kind of article do you think will be produced in greater numbers in the future? You already know the answer. It’s been getting worse every year. So the only way to fix the internet is for you to change your personal viewing habits. Yes, you. You can’t control what other people are looking at, but you can control what you look at.

So… if a person wants to look at pornography, it should be the case that they must go to a pornographic site to do so. It should not be the case that every page on the internet is a possible mine field of smut. Do you know why the whole internet is a mine field of smut? Because smut sells, and internet content producers use it to sell everything. Why? Because people click on smut. Millions of people. Maybe these people start, like I did this morning, by going to what should be perfectly wholesome pages, and a “sexy” ad or featured article with some “woman’s” exposed body parts shows up. You know what they should do, though? Don’t click. And don’t view. Refuse to be manipulated by this stuff. Please help me fix the internet.

Isn’t anyone else in the world just disgusted with how easy we are to manipulate? And I’m not just talking about pornography. I’m talking about all the lowbrow, ridiculous, substanceless garbage we click on all the time and then share. I’m talking about the toxic and ubiquitous clickbait that strokes our vanity (How Old At Heart Are You Really?), tantalizes our mindless curiosity (What Celebrities Look Like Without Makeup… Number 3 Will Blow Your Mind!), monetizes emotions (This Woman Was Approached by a Three-Legged Kitten… You Won’t Believe What Happened Next), invokes a mob mentality (Find Out What Millions of Men Already Know About Attracting Women, Making Money, and Being Cool), or otherwise reduces real human experience to the level of base units of mercantile exchange. I’m sick of it. We fall for it, and that is a dirty shame. Kim Kardashian tells us we are all going to look at her derrière, and then we all do. Gross. Stop. Please. Don’t. Let’s fix the internet.