The vast majority of internet users are lurkers; passive users who never generate any content, never participate in discussions, never post comments. This to some degree explains the extraordinary success of Facebook. The ubiquitous Facebook ‘like button’ allows passive users to interact with online content with a simple click; you don’t need to comment, you don’t need to exercise your brain at all. Perhaps it also why social media platforms such as MySpace have been less successful. You can customise MySpace profiles a great deal more than you can with a Facebook profile, especially if you’re comfortable using a little html, but you really need to post some content to get anything out of it. The simple fact is, most people just aren’t interested in how their profile pages appear. Posting the odd trivial message, clicking ‘likes’ and playing games like ‘Farmville‘ is a rewarding social media experience for many. Just what is wrong with that?! I hear you ask with a rising tone of indignation and outrage.
Perhaps nothing, especially as far as the marketers and advertisers who happily manipulate mindless consumers. Many who cooperate with such strategies have no idea they are putting money in other people’s pockets with little benefit to themselves. Personal information is secretly gathered and used in a variety of contexts without knowledge or permission. But there is more to the passive state of mind than this.
Passive internet users are also likely to be passive parents. Kids are allowed to grow up with little direction. They derive their values from the TV shows and ads they are constantly exposed to, not to mention games and an ever growing array of online media. Passive parents are happy to park kids in front of a TV, computer or game console because it keeps them quiet, and quiet kids demand much less of your attention and time. Children of passive parents are less likely to aspire to higher education and are unlikely to enjoy fulfilling relationships or well paid, satisfying careers. They are more likely to fall into drug and alcohol abuse and comprise the majority of the prison population.
Passive internet users are also much more likely to be passive, swinging voters. In countries where voting is not compulsory they are highly unlikely to ever vote at all. If they do have to vote, they often make decisions based on the personal appeal of a candidate or on which side seems to be offering quick dollars. They are usually unaware or the issues behind election campaigns and are likely to be easily influenced and manipulated by media commentators and advertisers. They are often influenced into supporting platforms which are directly opposed to their own interests.
If these objections don’t really seem to be a problem, perhaps you have read the above passively if you have read it at all. It is a truism that you get as much out of life as you put in. The same goes for using the internet. Becoming politically and socially aware is empowering and can help you to improve your quality of life, not to mention that of those you have influence over such as children and family. Actively participating in online forums is an excellent way of sharing views and becoming more aware.
The reason sheep allow themselves to exist as objects of convenience for humans is because they are not capable of critical thought; think about it…