The Internet as Spoiled Child

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Full Title or Meme

The best place to understand the behavior of the Internet might be a first-grade school playground.


The internet of today does not seems to be a place of culture or higher purpose. This article looks at other aspects of human behavior that might help to understand how it evolves and how long it might take to create a civilized ecosystem that exhibits the better angels of our human nature.


  • Without governments society is a most unpleasant experience. The lawless nature of the wild west is an example of the sort of life that is nasty, brutish and short which is the state of nature that Thomas Hobbes called "the war of all against all" which can be avoided only by strong, undivided government. While Hobbes was interested only in authoritative governments, it has since been shown that strong central governments can working in democracies, including the British Parliament that was given such short shrift by Hobbes.
  • John Perry Barlow argues for just that sort unpleasant experience as described on the wiki page on Anarchy.

The Pathologies of the Schoolyard

Modern government basis compliance with law on two principles: (1) the punishment should fit the crime, and (2) the punishment should lead both the perpetrator and all of society to obey the law. The schoolyard has no principles of any sort if the teacher is not looking.

  1. Shame is the earliest form of punishment and has survived until the last few centuries. In the school yard it is applied for any infractions of the perceived law of the jungle. An early infraction of raise racial consciousness was the Sacco case where a careless racial reference ruined the author's life.[1] But shame is an effective weapon only when it is brandished against those who already inhabit a shared ethical universe and can be turned back on the accuser.
  2. Bully behavior typically knows no shame. It is loud, in-your-face coercion.
  3. Noise the loudest and most interesting voice wins the battle.


It would be nice if there were a choice about living on the Internet, but as it increasingly invades every facet of our life, that is no longer an option. Just as no one wants to live under the rules of the school yard in real-life, the same sentiment needs to apply to the Internet.


  1. Recca Rothfeld, Hang your Head New Yorker Magazine 2022-03-28 P 80ff