Power of the Internet, as Told by Ronson and Carr

The powers of the Internet are understated and not completely grasped by many in the year two thousand seventeen. People of all kinds and ages feel the impact and long term affects of the Internet, especially the social media aspect, on a regular basis all across the globe. Two scholars that have delved into these impacts in novels are Nicholas Carr and Jon Ronson in their books The Shallows and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. Both men are cynical of the Internet and wary of its power upon its users, but address it in similar yet distinct ways from one another. Carr wrote about how the world has become almost desensitized to the way posts on social media impact readers, as the attention spans of the average Internet users are significantly shorter now than they ever have been before. Because of this lack of long-term attentiveness towards media we are exposed, we as individuals do not completely understand that what we post will continue to have its presence felt for quite some time to come. Posts do not just disappear on the World Wide Web, they remain there and their message can be felt consistently for a long time to come, regardless of the intentions or the purpose. In Carr’s own words, “When we’re online, we’re often oblivious to everything else going on around us. The real world recedes…”  (Carr, 118) We are unaware of the world around us, and that leads to the hurt. While Ronson may not talk about the memory of the social media users, he writes about the results of these peoples inability to grasp the meaning of their words online. Ronson explains that these posts can sustain more than just skin deep hurt feelings; comments on the internet have the ability to cut very deep and to leave emotional scars that are sometimes more painful than real ones. Ronson speaks of many situations where a tweet or a post of some kind on social media irrevocably changed the life of a person in ways that they could never possibly imagined, yet it all happened to fast and easily. While interviewing Adria Richards in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Ronson recorded a response of the affected woman to her life changing social media calamity, which was that, “I felt betrayed. I felt abandoned. I felt ashamed. I felt rejected. I felt alone.” (Ronson, 121) These are not words to be taken lightly or to be used if not warranted by true sadness and negative impact. They illustrate the true feelings emitted by these situations, and Ronson understood that. Both he and Carr, from different angles, showed their audience that the power innate within social media is not be be trifled with or thought nothing of. Social media and the Internet have the ability to change lives, both for better and for worse.

Author: James K

My Life consists of the 5 F's: Family, Friends, Film, Football, and Food

4 thoughts on “Power of the Internet, as Told by Ronson and Carr”

  1. It is interesting how you talk about Ronson is also pessimistic in his view of the internet. I think it is somewhat difficult to tell where Ronson stands. Obviously, he has noticed the pattern of online shaming and discusses the damage it does to the victims. However, it is unclear whether Ronson views this as an inevitable result of the internet, or whether he feels that there could be more education on the detrimental effects of shaming, which may in turn help eradicate it.


  2. I strongly agree with you when you say that: posts do not just disappear on the World Wide Web, they remain there and their message can be felt consistently for a long time to come, regardless of the intentions or the purpose. Words really are powerful and Carr and Ronson both make observations about how people use that power. This really makes me think about how we have evolved in the sense of human compassion and empathy. It is up to us to take a step back and look in the mirror and realize that we are all human.


  3. James-I agree with you that the powers of the internet are not fully grasped by us as of now. We have so much more room to grow, and we will be more knowledgeable about it once a generation that has been saturated in technology from the jump reaches late adulthood. I think the point of Carr’s you bring up about “the whole world receding” is really true. That distance might be the reason we can be so mean online-there is an actual distance shamers can feel between their actions and their effects.


  4. James, I think it’s interesting how you bring up the long term affects of the internet. Shaming is such a quick process for the person doing the shaming. They write a message, click send, then it’s over. For the person being shamed, that message will follow them around for the rest of their life.


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