Professor Predicts Internet Will End Soon As Well As It Heads Towards a ‘Point of No Return’

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    One of life’s maxims is that not everything lasts forever, or, as the popular adage goes, everything that rises must fall. So why not -although it seems that it is here to stay forever- believe in the end of the internet?

    At least, that is what a well-known Dutch media theoretician and, furthermore, critic of the network considers. In summary, Geert Lovink, professor at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) and the University of Amsterdam, in his new essay Extinction Internet, explains that there will come a time when everyone will get tired of being connected to the internet, because the downsides of sharing opinions online would be so great –the negative ones will outweigh the good ones– that people will simply turn away from the internet.

    Disenchantment: The end of an era

    In his essay, Lovink shares insights gained from 30 years of internet critique and counterculture research and asks a simple question: can the internet be fixed?

    According to Lovink, it had always been assumed at first that the internet was broken, but it could be fixed. However, now that has changed. “There may come a time when that is no longer possible, after which the adverse consequences can no longer be controlled. The Internet is heading towards a point of no return, and Big Tech is probably already aware of it as well. Mark Zuckerberg has walked away from his social media platforms and launched Meta, like nothing happened and we could start over, but it is clearly already broken”, he stated.

    For Lovink, the death of the internet, which will come gradually, should not be understood as an infrastructure problem –such as the cutting of cables or a blackout–, but as the end of an era, since, according to him, the struggle of the defenders of the internet in the 1990s by a decentralized network for everyone has been lost. Instead, according to Lovink, quoted by the University of Amsterdam, corporations (“big tech”) have taken over the internet and do not care about individual rights or society as a whole.

    Shunning at high psychological prices

    Lovink maintains that this point of no return is getting closer and closer because, as the statement points out, “even ‘normal’ users have to pay an increasing price for our great dependence on the Internet and our addiction to social networks and the Applications”. Ultimately, Lovink says that he believes “people will start to shy away from technology” as these prices, which are primarily psychological, “begin to cost too much for the average user. First of all, this price is psychological. Not only do many young people suffer from a distorted self-image and anxiety disorders, but there has also been outsourcing: certain critical functions of our brain are being outsourced. Our short-term memory is getting worse, and our attention is becoming more fragmented and directed in very specific ways”.

    At the same time, according to Lovink, social control is increased and users are closely monitored. “Our so-called freedom of expression doesn’t really exist anymore”,Lovink says. The consequences for those who share non-majority opinions on the internet, for example in relation to their work or their circle of friends, have reached the Netherlands as well. “We are already starting to see signs that people are posting less and less about their opinions”, he added.

    On the other hand, he also uses the examples of China, for its social points system, and the United States, for the use of data for the issuance of visas. All of this, he argues, will only drive users further and further away from the internet.

    Will it be the end of the internet? While it is still hard to believe that a world without the internet could soon exist, the theory is tempting to say the least. Nevertheless,Lovink seems to be convinced. “I think we may leave it. Different computer programs or other constructions could emerge that make us less dependent”, says Lovink, who, despite everything, remains optimistic. “On the plus side, it is promising that in the last 3 years there has been a real shift in awareness about our situation. There has been a union of movements around Occupy, #MeToo and the climate.

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