Three Worlds of the Internet

My current view of where the Internet, and American culture in general, is taking us might be diagrammed by a three-circle Venn diagram.

1) Reality-based circle:

Here dwell the people who are oriented by science, skepticism, and secularism -- Keynesian or further left in economics and politics.

2) Faith-based circle:

Here are the Bachman and Perry lovers, Dominionists, waiting for the Second Coming; climate science and evolution deniers, Tea Partyers, hard free-enterprise believers. They live in a culture completely closed off from reality. They can be recognized by the fact that no attempt to engage them in a rational discussion goes anywhere; they haven't the slightest idea of what such a discussion would look like.

3) Circle of Internet post-modernist autodidacts:

Dwellers in what I call the "90%-crap" side of the Internet. On many of the Web sites I often visit, where topics such as the existence of God, evolution, and politics are discussed, the proprietors of the sites generally post reality-based essays (in other words, they belong to the first circle mentioned above). But many, and sometimes nearly all, of the commenters on these posts immediately begin to angrily denounce the OP as an atheist, socialist, Obama-lover (except that they use some sort of "cute," meant-to-be-cuttingly-snide variation on the name "Obama"), etc., and soon make up a chorus of crap. This is the 90% which seems to overwhelm many sites which deal in areas such as philosophy, economics, and politics. They resemble the second circle in being completely impervious to rationality, but their world views are not necessary based on a Sacred Bible; many of them turn out to be atheist, even materialist in their metaphysics, but not in the skeptical fashion of the first circle.

It would seem that these folks are engaged in trying to educate themselves in these "deep-thought" sorts of subjects by Web-surfing. (Hey, it's a lot cheaper than paying tuition to an actual reputable institution of higher learning, and you don't have to pass any entrance exams.) One can learn quite a bit by Web-surfing if one has had enough prior genuine education under one's belt to be able to distinguish good information from crap, but the dwellers in this third circle dropped out of school before getting this necessary foundation, or perhaps never attended one in the first place. Therefore, their minds are 90% full of you-know-what.

As they make the rounds of the Web, reading each other's production and forming a closer- and closer-knit tribe, I expect that they will eventually drive up the Crap Quotient of their side of the Internet to perhaps 98% or higher. (Obviously, I am making these percentages up, but they are probably not far from the truth.)

If the second and third circles are rapidly gaining on the first one, as seems to be the cause, it is quite possible that in a few years they will become the dominant influence in American culture and politics. If so, they must inevitably collide in some way with the real world, since reality has a stubborn way of not giving way to fantasies. The question is: how soon will they this collision happen, and what will happen then? 

Will they bring most scientific research and education in the U.S. to a standstill? If so, it will continue in other countries, obviously. Then that part of the world will eventually become markedly superior to the U.S. in its standard of living, state of health, etc.

If circles 2) and 3) became politically dominant, the U.S. economy would clearly crash profoundly, but what effect would that have on the rest of the world? Would it lead to a global depression, or would the rest of the world economy manage to pull the U.S. out of its hole? 

Would the Christianist/post-modernist U.S. leaders bring about a world war, in the belief that it would trigger the Second Coming?

These possibilities are worth seriously pondering, I believe, unless I am being too pessimistic. I shall try to figure out a positive view of the future that can convince me that it is more likely than the one I have just outlined.

qedd© Jon Johanning 2011