[BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

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[BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by Moonchild » 2021-09-02, 12:09

Lacking an official blog, I occasionally write on the forum in that capacity.

Well, it's been quite a week so far. Today after a (for a change) decent rest I stepped back and looked at what all has been going on with MyPal, and broadened my scope to Open Source in general, and then the Internet in general, because I kept seeing the same patterns emerge. Patterns that are, undoubtedly, tribal in shape. From a tribal perspective, all of what happened and has been happening at large in many places makes perfect sense.

The Internet has been invaluable for people to get and stay in touch with many others, across borders. It became an integral part of human life in many places. It's brought many people closer together and has made many businesses many times more efficient in what they do (not without risk, of course). But it has also given rise to other things as it grew: people started flocking together in on-line communities and groups around certain interests, then around products, then around certain beliefs and convictions, around clusters of opinions, and lo and behold we went straight back into forming tribes. Only this time, the tribes could be formed and contain anyone regardless of location, be formed at will, and start tribe wars with anyone anywhere.

And that is exactly what's been happening more and more.

Anyone into competitive PvP gaming knows this extremely well. Especially in open world resource-based games like the many survival ones out there. That is, however, still small scale.
Scale it up a little, and you end up in the realm of mailing lists and similar, where many have become extremely biased towards only attracting people who already agree and no longer have anything new to discuss aside from reinforcing the theme, and anyone with a differing opinion is often quickly shooed out the door our outright removed by moderators.
Scale it up some more and you end up with the likes of 4chan, who hold organised pillage and plunder raids on unsuspecting victims by descending upon them in large numbers.
Even more and you end up with places like Reddit where everything is set up to favour tribal behaviour like post voting systems, lack of decisive action by staff when real-world damage is caused out of fear of accusations about limiting freedom of speech, and similar social hooks that support strong opinions and grouping of people in cliques to take mass action caused by a few instigators.

So that is where we are now: an overly tribal Internet with all the dynamics of it, including all-out tribal warfare.

Now what does this warfare look like? Well, I'm sure many of you have already encountered it, whether you realise it or not. You might know it by other names: cancel culture, character assassination, online culture wars, deplatforming or even purging in some cases.
In our project we've been subject to at the very least character assassination and deplatforming, and to a more or lesser degree (attempted) cancel culture actions, especially recently where people even tried to get our Wikipedia article for the Pale Moon browser deleted (thankfully stopped short quickly by Wikipedia staff). That's just an example close to home -- but look around and you will see these kinds of things happening everywhere now, on many platforms.

Gone are the days where the Internet was a truly open platform with free speech -- now whatever you say, post, publish or upload is subject to scrutiny by any number of (often extreme) tribal groups who might at any point want to attack you for having a different opinion, conviction or belief than they have. And oh, of course all of that is heavily supported by the overall consensus that insult is a crime. The problem with outlawing insult is that so many things can be misconstrued as it. Criticism, Ridicule, good-hearted jests, sarcasm, unfavourable comparison or inconvenient facts, or merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy can all be misconstrued as insult. Why is this important? Well, insult can and will be used as a justification to wage war if it's considered a crime. And often such an opinion-based justification gets priority over fact, logic or even law and regulation, because a justification based on opinion simply has no counter. There are no facts or reasoning that can objectively counter something that is by definition a personal, internal and abstract process in the mind.

So how do we get from here to something better again? I think it all boils down to critical thinking, not just blindly following trends or being swept up in opinion-based justifications of actions, and rejecting that which is presented without evidence. Tell that lizard brain to take a back seat, don't try to "win a fight" before you are actually fully aware of what you are fighting for.

Anyway, this is already getting lengthy, so I'll just close off here.

Thanks for reading.
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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by ag0044 » 2021-09-04, 02:27

That reads as though it is something that has been festering inside you for some time.

And, while I agree with the thrust of what you say, I do not think that we can ever go back to "the good old days" (GOD). The communication age that has brought wireless/radio, satellites, intercontinental optic cable and the like has meant that information (and, of course, mis-information) travel freely without any filtering. In the GOD, information was filtered: newspapers, for example, only printed what they wanted to print, and even then it would probably be days out of date: TV had to wait days for film of an event (coronation, for example) to arrive. Now, we get it all almost immediately ... and we get ALL of it.

Today's unfiltering of information, it could be argued, has led to extremism becoming widespread. You call it tribalism; I call it extremism; they call it polarisation - one of those irregular verbs.

While we bemoan the attitudes and behaviour of today, do we really want to go back to the GOD, which may not have been so good after all? At the least, scientific and medical advances have killed [sorry] disease - look at how quickly effective COVID vaccines have been developed, not to mention all the other vaccines and cures. People with arthritic joints had to suffer, often without pain-killers, but now have replacements - not only is there the technology to make such replacement joints, but the knowledge and ability to do the operations (My wife had a knee replacement: went into hospital at 7am, theatre at 9am, and was walking by 4pm. I have had cataract operations that replaced the lenses in my eyes, each time I was in and out of the clinic in 4 hours. To my mind, stunning, almost-unbelievable operations). I'm not so sure that the GOD were that good.

No, life isn't all good, but I'd suggest that for a large(?) proportion of the world's population, life is considerably better than it was, say, 100 or even 50 years ago.

I've gone on too long, so I will quote and repeat what you said above:
Anyway, this is already getting lengthy, so I'll just close off here.

Thanks for reading

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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by jobbautista9 » 2021-09-04, 03:08

I don't think Moonchild wanted to go back to the "good old days" in general, otherwise Pale Moon wouldn't exist. :P

He even clearly said in the OP what we could do to make the internet better than what it is today, just in case you didn't see it:
Moonchild wrote:
2021-09-02, 12:09
So how do we get from here to something better again? I think it all boils down to critical thinking, not just blindly following trends or being swept up in opinion-based justifications of actions, and rejecting that which is presented without evidence. Tell that lizard brain to take a back seat, don't try to "win a fight" before you are actually fully aware of what you are fighting for.
It's too late to go back to the past. We should be dealing with the now.
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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by 576tomoyo » 2021-09-04, 03:53

The mainstreamisation of the Internet is what killed it off, really. Once everyone realised they could be an online star for doing something trendy online they did it, much like when a riot or a protest is going on and people simply join in because "lets go throw fings round lol" rather than there being any actual motivation for the movement in itself. They want the buzz of being there for the attention - and that's certainly something I, and many others more than likely, tend to feel quite often (it might be fairly obvious from how I am wording this, but I am a total disgrace to how I probably should behave).

Then you have governmental corps spying on everyone once it got mainstreamised in some countries, like the UK where people end up having police involvement for things they say on social media to others... and big companies such as Reddit/Twitter/Tumblr - and especially Discord - wiping out the old 'independent' communities for good, meaning we are all bound to the same interfaces and people expect to find not a forum or IRC, but a Discord or Reddit instead; complaining or outright refusing to participate if there isn't one, often enough, from the younger users. Everything ultimately just ends up crossing over into one another nowadays, and then becomes a tribal war: so to quote the article's analogy of circles as like tribes.

Essentially, we are being dumbed down to only accept big companies and "don't like our upstream moderation, deal with it because you can't escape us, haha" attitude if you dislike the political attitudes of the big corporations in any way whatsoever - and then the other end of the spectrum with things like Parler and BitChute, which has all your Alex Jones believers and neo-Fascist types removed from Twitter/etc... it seems being in the middle is the hardest part, when you don't like what the big companies are doing by depersonalising us people - but also despise the likes of moronic conspiracy theorists, too...

It's exactly as MC said: "Tell that lizard brain to take a back seat, don't try to "win a fight" before you are actually fully aware of what you are fighting for."

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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by Moonchild » 2021-09-04, 04:12

576tomoyo wrote:
2021-09-04, 03:53
Then you have governmental corps spying on everyone
If you think my post was about big corporations, the government, or privacy issues, then you have totally and completely missed my point and I suggest you go back and read it again.
ag0044 wrote:
2021-09-04, 02:27
I do not think that we can ever go back to "the good old days" (GOD)
I never said I wanted to and I'd appreciate it if you don't dumb it down to a hyper-conservative view because that's not what this is.
I want to go forward, not back. I want to see progress.
ag0044 wrote:
2021-09-04, 02:27
You call it tribalism; I call it extremism; they call it polarisation - one of those irregular verbs.
I call it tribalism because it has little to do with extremism or polarisation. Tribes are formed regardless of how extreme the tribe's beliefs or convictions are - but they will insist on those beliefs or convictions with just as much "verve" as they would if they were extreme -- possibly even more so for being considered "more sane than the other tribes". It is much more fundamental and broad-stroking than what you seem to think, here.
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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by jobbautista9 » 2021-09-04, 04:26

576tomoyo wrote:
2021-09-04, 03:53
The mainstreamisation of the Internet is what killed it off, really.
The alternative, which is to keep the internet an academic, governmental, and military niche, isn't any better either. Perhaps we could've controlled it so that Eternal September didn't occur; but still led to the internet becoming mainstream. I'm not sure how that could be done at the time though; and the Western powers wanted to push for the spread of the internet as fast as possible, to prove that Soviet-style censorship of information doesn't work. It's an interesting time when the capitalists were the face of cooperation, and the communists were the face of competition.
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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by moonbat » 2021-09-04, 10:59

It isn't 'mainstreamization' that killed the internet. It went mainstream in 1993, and remained a largely open place over the next 20 years until the rise of smartphones and social media. 2013 was the watershed year that mobile internet usage overtook desktop/laptop usage.

Smartphones unlike regular computers are purely meant for content consumption, not creation, and the optimization of the internet towards the former has led to its extreme dumbing down over the previous decade. Combine that with an advertising driven, corporate controlled handful of platforms where all the influential discussion takes place, and you get the dystopia that it currently is. It would've been inconceivable in the mid 00s if someone told you that all worthwhile (as in influential) public discussion on the internet would be under the control of less than a handful of companies but that's what we have today.

While tribalism online has always existed, the anonymity by default that the internet used to have helped in keeping online disputes online, today with the normalization of putting your real life persona and details online, people get doxed, have SWAT teams sent on false pretexts or fired from their jobs over comments made years ago. There's a witch hunt mindset against anyone who goes counter to established dogma, and sad to say in the whole open source world as well.
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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by Moonchild » 2021-09-04, 12:58

moonbat wrote:
2021-09-04, 10:59
While tribalism online has always existed, the anonymity by default that the internet used to have helped in keeping online disputes online, today with the normalization of putting your real life persona and details online, people get doxed, have SWAT teams sent on false pretexts or fired from their jobs over comments made years ago. There's a witch hunt mindset against anyone who goes counter to established dogma, and sad to say in the whole open source world as well.
I personally don't believe it was tribalism in the early days. There were people who actively sought out other with similar interests, there, but they would not form these tightly coherent groups that no longer act as individuals, but rather with a singular mindset, that we see now. These groups today also attract people who just want to belong to that group and don't necessarily subscribe to the common interest.

I've seen the internet form and grow - I'm old enough and have always been connected enough to see that there is an essential difference to what is going on now compared to before. It may have been a gradual process but I certainly don't agree with "tribalism online has always existed", at least most certainly not in anything but niches where the "common interest" was already very far removed from the norm. What I see now is not small, but large groups of, as said, also much less extreme views or convictions form tight-knit groups with a very rigid mindset that act very much like early mankind tribes.
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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by 576tomoyo » 2021-09-04, 13:29

Moonchild wrote:
2021-09-04, 04:12
576tomoyo wrote:
2021-09-04, 03:53
Then you have governmental corps spying on everyone
If you think my post was about big corporations, the government, or privacy issues, then you have totally and completely missed my point and I suggest you go back and read it again.
I gathered it wasn't - I kind of just trailed off onto something else there. The general topic of the internet shifting from more close-knit circles to open circles is rather interesting to me, though. The last few things you said in your followup post kind of remind me of when bands have got popular in the past and you have fans who just like a few singles or whatever, which often draw negative criticism from those who actually followed them from the beginning. (Kurt Cobain hated the Nevermind album for instance due to its popularity and overly-commercial sound: wishing that the more casual fans could see the band past that one album).
moonbat wrote:
2021-09-04, 10:59
2013 was the watershed year that mobile internet usage overtook desktop/laptop usage.

Smartphones unlike regular computers are purely meant for content consumption, not creation, and the optimization of the internet towards the former has led to its extreme dumbing down over the previous decade. Combine that with an advertising driven, corporate controlled handful of platforms where all the influential discussion takes place, and you get the dystopia that it currently is. It would've been inconceivable in the mid 00s if someone told you that all worthwhile (as in influential) public discussion on the internet would be under the control of less than a handful of companies but that's what we have today.
I don't think that can be worded any better (I've not exactly got the strongest grasp of English and often don't really say what I mean that well, despite being a native).

Heck, on a side note, I didn't even see Discord staying around for long - though I did see the tolerance towards its controversies playing out the way they did. I always just assumed back then though that everyone would move on from it relatively quickly like everything else before it, but seems like it will be around for a while before something finally takes over it and no one even remembers it anymore.

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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by Tharthan » 2021-09-06, 19:58

ag0044 wrote:
2021-09-04, 02:27
do we really want to go back to the GOD, which may not have been so good after all? At the least, scientific and medical advances have killed [sorry] disease - look at how quickly effective COVID vaccines have been developed, not to mention all the other vaccines and cures. People with arthritic joints had to suffer, often without pain-killers, but now have replacements
Why is it either "we live in and accept this warped environment, and reject notions that the arrival of the present zeitgeist was based on mistaken notions" or "we want to undo the medical advances and genuine humanitarian developments that have occurred over the past many years"?

Why can it not be "we reject this current societal environment as warped and basing itself on misguided notions, and we denounce the kind of future that it appears that it will inevitably lead to if not fought back against, and we want to regain and restore to the zeitgeist and collective conscience the good wisdom and knowledge that have been largely discarded over the past many years"?

I am a bit perplexed on why some people seem to think that this is an either-or situation.
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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by Moonchild » 2021-09-06, 20:47

Tharthan wrote:
2021-09-06, 19:58
I am a bit perplexed on why some people seem to think that this is an either-or situation.
because it fits perfectly in an "us vs. them" tribal mindset? :P
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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by 576tomoyo » 2021-09-08, 10:41

Tharthan wrote:
2021-09-06, 19:58
I am a bit perplexed on why some people seem to think that this is an either-or situation.
Possibly nostalgia for the 'old days' of the internet during a time where forums and IRC were dominant, so naturally there may be a superiority complex of sorts :P

... one thing I do notice has been disappearing though, is people actually wanting to have things their way... always taking the "convenient" route instead at the cost of logical longevity and ethics (regardless of the choices out there that they could consider): this has definitely been notable within Europe, where home PCs like the C64/Spectrum/co. were extremely popular back in the 80s for gaming too, while consoles not so much - Sega aside, who were always more tolerant of people doing what they wanted with their systems than most other companies anyways. (Another good example of this trend over the years is how VHS edged out Betamax in the end despite being technically inferior... yet HD-DVD and Blu-ray, despite the latter's excessive DRM, it edged out the former in the end.)

I wasn't around at the time, having been born in 2001, so backing up these statements might be something worth doing from someone who was around at the time.
and the Western powers wanted to push for the spread of the internet as fast as possible, to prove that Soviet-style censorship of information doesn't work. It's an interesting time when the capitalists were the face of cooperation, and the communists were the face of competition.
And now it's the same ones censoring on said platforms. Interesting. :/

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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by athenian200 » 2021-09-13, 18:13

I don't think I actually saw your blog earlier because I was on my trip, but I think it's a very good write-up and I wanted to respond.

I think this issue actually goes deeper than Open Source, deeper than even the Internet upon reflecting about it. The antecedents and the seeds of all this were planted a long time ago. I think a lot of this ultimately comes down to the incoherence of modern philosophy, which basically informs and sets the standards for every other possible intellectual discipline. So ultimately, I believe that a long line of modern philosophers, from Kant, to Camus, to Nietzsche, and the ideologies their worldviews have given rise to, have been a slow poison to society that spread first through the universities, then to other institutions. First television, radio, and then the Internet and social media were like throwing gasoline on a fire that had already been burning for a long time. For a while it was easier for large regions or groups of these people to be somewhat insulated from this intellectual poison, and now we are all cast into a whole endless sea of that poison on which we have to struggle to build survival rafts and avoid sinking. The pre-Internet world was mostly superior in that it slowed the spread of this logic virus that has been infecting Western society for a long time, and gave different groups of people time to develop various immune responses, mitigate it, etc. That's no longer possible with how rapidly information spreads and how rapidly new technology and social norms take hold. Now by the time people notice an undesirable pattern or trend and react to it, it's already too late. Everything happens at an accelerated pace, including some beneficial things yes, but also socially destructive processes. However, I think we would have wound up here eventually regardless, it just might have taken 100 years instead of 20 or 30. The Internet is effectively a social change accelerant without a moral compass, for better or for worse. Those who are most aware of this and attempting to get out ahead of this problem and do anything at all about it are organizations like Google and Facebook, those who are arguably the least qualified and will certainly put a thumb on the scales to implement a system for handling the issue ultimately that benefits them. Even worse, the extended "tribe" of which Google is a part (because social networks and digital tribes are not confined to individual companies), have already taken over quite a bit of institutional power, so even handing that control to a government or an organization like the UN would change nothing at this point.

I will say that I have been opposed to these forces for a long time in one form or another. One of the reasons for my username is vaguely connected to this, in that I get a sense of meaning and purpose from ancient philosophy that I feel is lacking in the more nihilistic and subjective philosophies of most of those who came after Kant. I wish people would try to rediscover the roots of philosophy, heal society, and set out on a new path that takes us back to seeking the proper forms of truth, reason, and justice, a path that leads away from nihilism and moral relativism.

I believe that the ability to transfer information and resources so rapidly has reduced the value of formal institutions, and instead made it so that institutions have become front organizations and battlegrounds over which digital tribes fight as if for control of land, and mostly exist to make the activities of members of the tribe in control of that institution appear legitimate and above reproach when in fact they are often rife with questionable personal ties and activities. I'm also seeing things like mass flagging as an increasingly standardized way of determining who can and cannot belong to a group. So eventually membership is determined in a very tribal way, so that all you have to do is earn disapproval of a majority of members and then you are gone. There is no such thing as appeal to a higher authority, because as far as most are concerned, the organized tribe and their consensus reality is itself the only authority that matters. There can be no owner, no judge to come in and apply reason or justice against the complaints of a mob.

Ultimately, the wars of the 21st century will be micro-battles against countless individual people and their ideas and goals, not against organized institutions like countries or even against clearly defined groups as before. The battles mostly take place within the institution, within the group now as those in favor of one idea or way of thinking attempt to convince those they can and push out those who disagree using every tool at their disposal. Assimilation or conquest is preferred over destruction when possible. What matters most in this new digital world is the ability to influence people and the notions they have about things, the way they think. That is the currency the world now deals in, because things like resources as well as physical and cultural distance are increasingly irrelevant compared to the reach of one's social network and therefore what matters most is now more or less what people all around the world think about you, and how many human resources you can bring to bear against any problem. The barrier to gathering human resources from different places is gone, so those most effective at getting people from all around the world to accept their worldviews and ideas as truth and join with them have risen to the top.

Don't get me wrong, I do think the Internet can eventually be a force for good in the world, but ultimately it has laid bare many of the problems and weaknesses with our philosophical attitudes and the structure of modern society. There is a great difficulty in maintaining things like order, structure, reason, and fairness in their proper place when modern philosophies and the tendency to mob behavior are applied. There are some basic truths that I think people have to rediscover. Property rights are at the foundation of all other rights, and where they are not respected there can be no rights at all. Far from being irrelevant or outmoded, I believe that intellectual property has become more important than ever in a world where ideas themselves are more clearly than ever a valuable resource.

I've long held a certain view of the world, in particular that ultimately those who are productive support those who are not, and the non-productive wind up resenting their dependency and demanding the resources of those who are productive citing the principle of "fairness" or "equality" as a reason why they are entitled to decide the direction of the future. In other words, those of us who are productive or capable in any way will have to constantly struggle against those who are not asserting their equality and demanding our resources out of envy, resources that they themselves could not build or maintain. Therefore, what they truly seem to want in the end is for us to become caretakers and stewards of the resources we've created that they feel they are entitled to, and even to maintain what we've built while submitting to their will. They would claim that it is the whole collective, and not those who have endeavored to build something, that should have the right to control it. That is the kind of mentality we are up against, I believe. A mentality of entitlement and a demand that we resign ourselves to being caretakers of what we've created that serve the will of the collective without any regard for ourselves or our own vision.
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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by gepus » 2021-09-14, 08:51

athenian200 wrote:
2021-09-13, 18:13
Ultimately, the wars of the 21st century will be micro-battles against countless individual people and their ideas and goals, not against organized institutions like countries or even against clearly defined groups as before.
I'm afraid you're wrong at this point.
Off-topic:
Let me quote a General Staff Officer. His statement from 1996 isn't a prediction but a present fact.
The 21st century will be the era of a new colonialism.
The colonies of the future will primarily be resource suppliers and sales markets for the colonial powers.
The governments of the rich states will establish and monitor physical and digital security corridors for the removal of mineral resources and for trade and information purposes.

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Re: [BLOG] Manifestation of the Tribal Internet

Unread post by athenian200 » 2021-09-14, 16:13

gepus wrote:
2021-09-14, 08:51
I'm afraid you're wrong at this point.
Well, I imagine many people will read this and think I am wrong on one point or another, and I am not really invested in convincing all of them that I'm right. My intention was more that people would take from my post whatever they found valuable and meditate on it, and discard whatever they don't find useful.

That guess about what the future would be was indeed the weakest part of my post, because it was speculation. Even if that speculation turns out to be wrong, it certainly doesn't make the guy you quoted correct. His prediction and mine could both be wrong. That's the problem with speculating, I suppose. I probably should have omitted it.
"The rising sun will eventually set / A newborn's life will fade. / From sun to moon, moon to sun... / Give peaceful rest to the living dead." — The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

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