HomeColumnJust Because We Have Access to Google, It Doesn’t Give Us the Cognitive Ability of Trudeau Alec Kyle Sibbald 12/13/2015 Column, The Naked Cavalier 1291 Picture: Dennis Skley This may sound a bit contradictory for somebody who writes a column for an online publication but I must confess that I really don’t use the Internet much anymore. I have extremely poor Facebook etiquette having neglected to “like” the multitude of beautifully shot pictures of pretty people gurning in front of their i-telephones, and I must apologise to my beloved friend in Nigeria, when I get time I will send you my bank details so you can send me the Nazi gold that was recently dug up on Mars. Yes, I know these are trifling qualms that I remember were very en vogue to critique circa 2012, which in itself exhibits my fuddy-duddery when engaging in Internet based flotsam. The Internet is a wonderful piece of technological advancement but like with all wonderful technological inventions we humans kind of ruined its potential, much in the same way that the only noteworthy thing space travel has yielded so far is Tempur mattresses. I remember the good old days when I used the Internet to find out what was going to be on telly. It was also the second best way to find out what the weather is like. Now it is a miasma of vanity and vexation. The Internet now it is a miasma of vanity and vexation. With the current decline in travelling freak shows in the area, I recently found the dark point-and-laugh part of my psyche sated by the ubiquitous sight of Donald Trump all over news websites and social media pages. He is a grotesque figure in every way and I know that one shouldn’t judge one on one’s looks, but, when lining his baggy, lurid visage next to those of Rupert Murdoch, Katie Hopkins and Brundlefly you start to believe the adage that “you get the face that you deserve”. Embed from Getty Images Donald Trump really is a mess, a void of human decency wrapped in uncooked chicken skin, thatched with the hair collected in the plug-hole of London Zoo’s Monkey House showers, and sadly that is not even the worst thing about him. He has emerged as a champion of anti-intellectualism, the messiah of ignorance who wears his cognitive dissonance like a crown. He does however seem very apt presidential candidate for the way in which we consume and debate politics on the Internet, which has become a type of binary herding. You either sit on the left or right with no straying on any issue even when it isn’t in your favour. A very popular way of getting involved in politics in the UK at the moment is with online petitions, which when amounting more than 100,000 signatories (or clicks) must be considered for debate in parliament. It really is the epitome of laziness and detachment from politics as demonstrated by a recent petition signed by over 400,000 people who wanted to stop all immigration and close the UK borders until Isis are defeated. The facile nature and vagueness of petitions like this demonstrate how making decisions on important issues need to have less simplistic requirements for operating. I doubt any of the 400,000 “close the border” signatories or clickers really considered the fact that if the UK closed its borders the population would starve in a few weeks, but hey ho, not being prepared to starve for jingoism is a loony lefty idea. Anybody that knows me in real life knows that I love a good debate, and yes sometimes the debates turn into arguments but usually as a result of having too much (or not enough) wine. The best thing about debating in the real world is making salient well delivered points that leave your opponent seeing the light and maybe changing their views slightly. The second best thing is when your opponent does the same thing, leaving you a bit more knowledgeable, admitting you were wrong or ill-informed with decorum. Although real-life debating is far from perfect and can result in bitter stalemate it is nice to know that once you have left the auditorium of the playground the user of infantile tactics becomes the de facto loser. Debate on the Internet, regardless of knowledge or politeness and who may be making the best points, somebody is guaranteed to end up being labelled something unprintable. It’s not that I’m thin skinned. Although I did decide that if I want to continue working as a writer I better not look at the comments under these columns – after all I can only produce so many tears. It’s not that I’m thin skinned. Although I did decide that if I want to continue working as a writer I better not look at the comments under these columns – after all I can only produce so many tears. The problem lies in the fact that just because we have access to Google, it doesn’t give us the cognitive ability of Trudeau, Kropotkin, Aurelius or Russell, in fact a lot of the time it gives us the endearing qualities and arrogant righteousness of Limbaugh, Jones and Coulter, which if anything are going to make you become angry and sclerotic in your views, unable to relent to any potential sense your opposition may make. The Internet could be used as a great way to learn and discuss about current affairs (as long as you choose your sources wisely!) but sadly as perfectly demonstrated by the ascension of Trump a vast portion of it has turned into a digital playground where calling each other stupid (and a lot worse) is the highest level of debate.