The internet is an extremely liberating place to be, and I would not want it any other way. It is a never-ending trove of information and interaction where our views on plurality are tested. It is where we either showcase our interconnection or our indulgences.
In accessing what we desire, we somewhat personally filter out the content that we come across. The great challenge here is how the users, circulators and producers share accountability.
When you glide across YouTube looking for cat videos, the algorithm ends up feeding you viral videos of many charlatans — at best known as free speech warriors and at worst known as disingenuous hypocrites. I’ll let you compile the names.
There is a concentrated circulation of talking points on the internet, no matter how dishonest, which wants to convince you that there is this nebulous ‘leftism’ that wishes to destroy your values and society.
Without any specificity, this foggy label of ‘leftism’ is attached to the faces of socialists, social democrats and liberals in Canada and elsewhere. Not even neoliberals are free from the label. The goal is to present progressiveness as a selfindulgent pestilence of an idea that is worth destroying.
Thus, the not-so-much of an alternative to the status quo becomes something I regard as reactionary contrarianism. The goal is to convince enough receptive people that evolving beyond a regressive status quo is bad. Instead, one gets persuaded to think that the better solution is not to move forward but to reverse 100 years back.
There are many ways to look at this reactionary contrarianism. I see that the defining characteristic is frivolous malevolence or senseless hatred. Right now, there is no better place to start than the comment sections of any post on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or Reddit scrutinizing Greta Thunberg.
You will find examples of climate change denial, personal attacks and overall vindictiveness. These trends show an assault on accountability online.
What would a world without accountability look like?
Climate change advocacy has been called a “globalist” ruse to impose communism. The protests and acts of mutual solidarity against right-wing insurrection in the United States, Canada, Brazil, the UK and Europe has been blamed on a monolithic ‘leftist’ faction.
Womens’ rights would be called womens’ wrongs. Immigration at its mildest has already been labeled as an invasion crafted by the open borders-loving, globalist left. Slurs have been carelessly and deliberately thrown at Sikhs, Asians, Indigenous peoples and the LGBTQ+ community in their continued pursuit of dignity. At other times, simple denigration and calls to ignore their pursuit of dignity do greater damage than slurs alone.
An individual’s partial disagreement with any conventional left-leaning perspective can be manipulated by right-wing talking heads into a fight against the spectre of “cultural Marxism.” With this, we can conclude that there is a crisis of personal accountability in the face of infinite content and its circulation.
In not addressing it with care and caution we risk dooming ourselves with further regression, especially when political communication hinges upon interactions on the internet.
Graphic: Shawna Langer/ Graphics Editor