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The rise of power in society and the internet.

Posted by Adrian on October 10, 2007

There has been huge backlashes in our society towards various political and postmodern thought. You could also argue that these backlashes are aimed specifically towards feminism, humanism and even degrees of sexuality. Intellectualism, or even critical thought have been replaced with an acknowledged acceptance of ‘how it is’, a harsh reality of the human condition, reinforced by conservative right wing style governments to elements of scientific thought, namely Evolutionary Psychology. Although the scientific aspect of Evolutionary Psychology which attempted to understand the true notion of human behavior, has unwittingly oversimplified behavioral science and allowed a broken down popular culture inspired version of human interaction to replace the densely complex human condition. This can been seen, in my opinion, in various creative aspects of society. Television has embraced the ‘pecking order’ human observation reality shows, even porn has attempted to reveal ‘real life’ situations under the name of Gonzo porn. The constant amount of science documentaries on the BBC and ABC, with a palatable scientific ‘pop culture’ analysis of human sexuality courtesy of Evolutionary Psychology proponents. With the mandatory ‘experiment’ of unwashed t-shirts, undersexed uni students and the power of scent and sexual attraction. A reinforced human predicament, of survival of the fittest, biological fitness, the order of rule and the clear differences of men and women. But reality can be distorted, and a society that has backlashed against self analysis and wide spread aspects of intellectualism, has also allowed a hierarchic style power base to replace the remnants of postmodern, critical thought. This could also be argued that this acceptance of hierarchical rule, has initiated widespread conservatism and power hording in the West and reinforced fundamentalism in the East. The West that prided it’s self on democracy, has also slowly eroded democracy; this can be seen it all facets of culture and society namely stemmed from the fallacy of the War on Terror, government security and so on. So as a society we have agreed to this predicament of power and rule, aligning ourselves with an authority based society, with a total faith in all levels of human management, from science, politics through to everyday commerce.

Someone said to me the other day that the internet is the last true democracy, unfortunately I don’t agree. The internet as far as a reference for information is an extremely important tool. But to see the internet as some place of interconnection and communal participation is a fallacy. If our society on a whole has embraced a hierarchical based power, say from government, employment; then also there has been an emulation of that power by the general populous. The net allows that power to be administered and allocated since communication, community and information is an important aspect of human growth, the commodified and hording of communal forums allows an emulated hierarchical power to flourish. Namely the so called forum administrators, blog authors, people with ‘op status’ on community forums etc. So is this power significant? From an objective perspective no it’s not a significant power, but as society feels less secure in an individual existence, conformity based networks have grown.

I know a person that was on a network that discussed Linux software, it was, from his perspective a very controlled and restrictive environment. After a heated exchange with the administrator of the forum, he was banned, not just from the Linux software forum, but from the whole network! After initial shock and frustration he was determined to find out who wielded such power on a community forum. It was discovered that the administrator of head of the network was a woman in her late 30’s, likes sci fiction and dresses up and attends Star Trek conventions. Hardly a power suited over ambitious person, or even a person protecting their tribal community, that Evolutionary Psychologists would asset as primarily a male trait anyway. The point is unfortunately the emulation of power in our society, through the different levels of human interaction; now resting on the internet as the platform for hierarchical power – only compounds the level of acceptance to control and authority.

Even though that authority, in the case of the Star Trek obsessed admin on an internet forum, is small and insignificant. It nevertheless indicates that a society that does not question power and the foundations of power will accept and believe what is projected to you by the ‘experts’ or ‘leaders’. In which an ‘expert’ or ‘leader’ can be a subjective term, especially in describing a person who yields information as a power.

Therefor it is wise to query all levels of power in our society, the nature of power, the distribution of power and the emulation of power from authority/society based icons.

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