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Has the internet brought out the worst in us?

Robin hood (Pinterest)
Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor. But of course that's fiction (Pinterest)


TUMBY BAY – When I check my emails in the morning about three-quarters of them are immediately despatched to the trash folder to join all the second and third offenders already there.

The volume of junk and scam emails I receive these days is such I’ve given up trying to unsubscribe them. (Those considerate enough to allow that passing pleasure.)

Also, in many cases, unsubscribing doesn’t work and the emails keep coming.

And, in other cases, trying to unsubscribe can be downright dangerous because the scammers have planted nasty trojans in the link.

So nowadays I just shovel them all into the trash folder and empty it.

Some of the cruder scams can be quite amusing with their outrageous claims and grammatical and spelling errors.

The more sophisticated attempts have to be admired for their ingenuity in reproducing legitimate government and business letterheads and layouts.

It’s only when you more closely scrutinise an email offering a refund from the Australian Taxation Office that you nail the scam. Since when did the ATO have a gmail address?

Amusing as they might be, however, I’m never tempted to follow the links or open the files they offer.

So far I’ve avoided disaster (touch wood) but what really amazes me is the number of scammers who are out there.

After all, scamming is not only dishonest and criminal (in Australia it is fraud) but deeply immoral.

It doesn’t just try to scam people like me, it targets the vulnerable - the elderly, the uneducated, the very ill, children….

The internet – once considered an unblemished gift to humanity – was soon exploited by ne’er do wells and criminals who were enabled to thrive and multiply.

The internet, and the social media it eventually hatched, opened previously unforeseen opportunities for whackos, extremists, conspiracy theorists, an American president….

But, for those maggots with only criminal intent, it has been a godsend and a source of riches.

Which leads me to ponder whether the internet is a true mirror of our society.

If it is, the mirror yields back a disturbing image. Much more disturbing than the worst of the banality that is television.

I was compelled to ask whether this cesspool existed, largely unseen, before the internet’s arrival.

Or whether the internet gave birth to a new demon, not present before its inception.

Did the bloke in the pub who tried to sell you a fake Omega watch simply move to the new medium, or did the internet spawn a whole new criminal class that did not previously exist?

I suspect the evil was always there but the internet gave it jet propulsion.

And I also believe that changes in our society made a major contribution.

In particular I suspect that the age of greed that developed out of late stage capitalism and neo-liberalism has legitimised certain types of behaviour we once might have viewed as immoral and criminal.

There is an interesting corollary that seems to support this view.

Capitalism is built upon the exploitation of the poor by the wealthy.

Neo-liberalism, which capitalism procreated in the late 20th century and accelerated in the 21st, does the same with fewer apologies.

Criminalism is also largely built upon the exploitation of the poor.

Except for Robin Hood, who stole from the rich to give to the poor….

No, the character of Robin Hood was a cruel myth invented in the 13th or 14th century.

Probably by a wildly naïve optimist.

There are no good criminals just as there are no good capitalists. A good criminal or a good capitalist is an oxymoron.

Is there a good internet, or is that also an oxymoron?

It wasn’t so long ago we assumed that most people were good and kind.

Nowadays we can’t be sure. Nowadays it’s wildly naïve to trust everyone.

In my eyes, that’s a terrible indictment of society.


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Michael Dom

Scamming may be immoral, but it is also rational. And while it may not be right, it sure must be good for the scammer.

After all, what logical reason is there not to scam someone who is stupid enough to believe you?

And do said scammers have the will to avoid the act of falsifying their character, claims and confidentialities?

(Thanks Phil, I think I'm spiralling now.)

Bernard Corden

Amo, Amas, Amat....Amato,and%20can%20be%20used%20in%20many%20different%20ways.

Corney Korokan Alone

The internet opened the doors of stage-managed performative actors to actual truths and their darker secrets.

Many do-gooders around the world are caught off-guard and disappointed when counter arguments and narratives are presented.

With verification and cross-referencing at the fingertips of the commoners, at blistering speed this democratisation of information is spelling a stinging blow to liars, terrorists and pretenders everywhere.

It's really nice to see mainstream media, especially from certain northern quarters of the world, being exposed and shamed.

So the internet is liberating (for education, business and trade, cultural awareness and national consciousness) for those who understand factual global history.

It is as tricky as glue for those who are novices in the new highway of instant and fast flow of information.

Julia Eaton

Hi Bernie Corden - Nice to see you still alive and kicking. Going to see your brother Bill in Canada in May. Should I give him your love?

Always your darling sister Julie from the UK. Only way to get in touch with you is by this post, but hey at least you're alive so we can get on with are lives now.

Bernard Corden

I have just attended a Robodebt public hearing and listened to a witness describe the anxiety she experienced after receiving a debt notice.

During this draconian, inhumane and illegal cash grab, Sussan Ley, in her role as health minister, attended two separate New Year's Eve love fests on the Gold Coast at the expense of taxpayers.

One of the hedonistic carpet-munching shindigs took place at the exclusive Palazzo Versace Hotel on Main Beach.

The events were hosted by a prominent Brisbane entrepreneur whose company secured several federal Coalition government contracts in 2015 for education and training services worth $41 million and $4.4 million in 2015.

The company had previously donated $20,000 to the Liberal Party:

Chris Overland

The internet has indeed held up a mirror to us all and it is hard to like much of what we see.

Greed, exploitation, lies and stupidity abound.

Neo-liberal capitalism is a system lurching into crisis. The super wealthy who, in practice, control this system are now so confident about their immunity from any attempt to make the system fairer and more equitable that they have become very brazen in the pursuit of wealth power and influence.

In the so-called democratic world, we have chosen to allow a largely unelected oligarchy composed of both individuals and corporations to dominate our economic system as epitomised by those who own and control the vast technology corporations like Meta, Google, YouTube, Twitter and the like.

The same situation applies in the world's two largest authoritarian regimes, Russia and China, except that in the latter case it is an unelected political elite who are the dominant force in society.

The internet has, even in its worst manifestations, at least exposed this for all to see although, of course, many remain resolutely blind to the obvious, preferring instead to live in a dream world where justice, honour and good faith are the hallmarks of all democratic political systems.

In an Australian context, the positive evil of Robodebt as now revealed by the current Royal Commission, is clear evidence of the callous indifference and bad faith of the previous government, which blamed the victims of the neo-liberalism for their own fate and set out to punish them for it too.

In the USA, the Republican Party is a hot bed of radical evangelical activism bent on depriving people of their rights except when it comes to things dear to their hearts such as the ownership of guns and an unfettered capacity to make money.

They also wish to subdue ordinary workers by crushing unionism and subsidising or otherwise supporting those who oppress and exploit them.

This is especially so in the case of the poor and dispossessed who, in practice, make up the huge majority of the 'cannon fodder' required by US neo-liberal capitalism to generate wealth for the wealthy.

In the context of PNG, those who would exploit and expropriate its wealth arrive using sweet words and bearing gifts for the 'big men' who purport to govern for and on behalf of the people.

This system works well and thus the people of PNG are condemned to poverty while a tiny minority wax fat upon the country's wealth.

All this the internet reveals on a daily basis and yet we all blunder on as if nothing was wrong at all beyond the bad or stupid behaviour of a small minority of malcontents and morons.

Wake up people! The system as currently conceived is rotten to the core, based upon the Great Lie that everyone has a chance to become rich if only they work hard enough and long enough.

Just enough people actually manage this to make the Great Lie seem plausible, but the truth is that most people must remain poor and helpless to allow the capitalist system to function.

Marx worked this out and explained it in the mid 19th century but capitalism adapted fast enough and far enough, at least in the western world, to avoid the revolutions that overturned the system in places like Russia and China.

Alas, the revolutions failed to really change things because what they promised was an illusion that could never be achieved. Now they are just facsimiles of the same rampantly exploitative system as prevails in the so-called democratic world.

I still believe that the capitalist system is capable of being renovated and its worst excesses curbed but it will take tremendous political will for this to be done.

Right now, even those political parties that know the system is broken are too frightened of the entrenched interest groups to undertake the required changes.

So, it seems we must endure some sort of catastrophic system failure before a supine and ignorant public wake up to what has been going on and elect a government with a genuine mandate for reform.

Maybe the internet can serve as the catalyst for this?

We must wait and see.

Paul Oates

I suggest Phil, that human nature hasn't changed much since we first evolved.

The difference is that we now have the Age of Information and we, at least some who take the trouble to read and understand, may be more aware of just how dangerous it is not to trust the old scenario, 'If it looks too good to be true, it probably is'.

The 'con artistes' and charlatans have been around and written about for centuries. Look how they used to recruit for the army over 200 hundred years ago or the press gang for the Navy during the Napoleonic Wars?

You only have to read Charles Dickens or Robert Louis Stevenson to know cons were around less than 200 years ago and have been ever since someone thought he/she could take advantage of someone else.

The essence of what has become more complicated is the methodology. Knowing how to operate the internet requires training and experience and still catches huge numbers of people every year. If it wasn't very profitable, 'crims' wouldn't be using it.

Bernard Corden

" I don't even trust myself" - Josef Stalin

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