While listening to a podcast en-route to work this morning, mention was made of a saying that had stuck with the presenter for years – “the Sun doesn’t wait”. I’ve been turning it over in my head for the last hour – thinking about what it means. I have often commented that being able to keep putting one foot in front of the other has served me well over the years. Perhaps the idea that the world keeps turning – that the sun will rise tomorrow just as it did today is the reason plodding forwards works so well.
The world keeps turning. It keeps changing too – if we like it or not. While we could complain about change, it seems curious to do so, because invariably change has already happened. There is no rewind button.
It’s now a couple of days since the hammer fell on Tumblr, banning almost all adult content from a platform that had formerly been a proud bastion of freedom of thought and expression. Initially I sympathised with those throwing their hands up in horror at “the man”, but then found myself taking a step back, and thinking about the wider perspective.
Perhaps it’s time for the internet to change.
When left to their own devices, people tend to congregate together – they form communities – it’s just what they do. The various platforms on the internet take advantage of this trait – providing those people with a platform to find each other, to share a little of themselves, and to build relationships that might never have happened otherwise. Of course those platforms are not doing it out of the kindness of their heart – they are busy monetising everything they possibly can. There’s ano old saying related to the internet – that if a platform is free, then the people using it are the product being sold.
Here’s the problem though – trying to build an all-inclusive platform on the internet where everybody has as many freedoms as possible is dangerous – impossible even – because people have conflicting interests, cultures, morality, and ethics. Imagine organising a party where christians, muslims, buddists, satanists, sex workers, conservatives, democrats, socialists, nihilists, straight people, gay people, lesbian people, trans people, bi-sexual people, and queer people were all invited, and all thrown into the same room with each other (apologised if I missed anybody out).
It makes sense for smaller communities to exist with varying degrees of separation from each other. This happens naturally in the real world – people tend to group together with those that share their views, and stay away from those that don’t. We’ll ignore those that might stand next to a group they don’t agree with, holding placards, because they illustrate exactly why this is all so damn difficult. Small er communiuties cause problems too though – because if thoughts, ideas, and conversation happen in seclusion, they may not foster the thoughts, ideas and conversations you might wish for.
In a strange sort of way, throwing everybody into the same room enforces transparency, openness, and accessibility – with provides an inherent self-regulation – nobody can hide. Of course doing so will also create friction, conflict, violence, and general mayhem – because people tend to ruin everything. Actually, scratch that – people always ruin everything. They always have, and always will – and they’ll complain about the good thing they had being ruined by everybody else, which is hilariously self defeating when you think about it.
Maybe the solution is to stop thinking so much about anything, and just remind ourselves that the clock is ticking, and will keep on ticking. The sun will rise again tomorrow, and unless we start walking forwards, we’ll be wasting a lot of time.