Is it my imagination or has the tone of the Internet seeped into daily life? People often suggest that Twitter’s cruelty and misanthropy are unique to the format. Announcing that he was deleting Twitter from his phone, Andrew Sullivan advised: “Social media has turned journalism into junk, has promoted addictive addlement in our brains, is wrecking our democracy, and slowly replacing life with pseudo-life.”
The comments sections of websites are sewers, some have suggested, because they’re anonymous. I used to think that. Now I’m not so sure. While anonymity clearly unleashes some of the darker sides of human nature (which is one of the reasons mobs are so dangerous), and while real life is somewhat more civilized than “pseudo life,” the indecency is now quite open in our politics, our entertainment, and, as noted in the car story (and others I could tell), in daily life.
What happened when Samantha Bee used the “C” word with reference to Ivanka Trump? She ought to have been greeted with shocked silence. Instead, she got applause. When Robert De Niro unloaded the “F” bomb on Donald Trump, he got a standing ovation at the Tony Awards.