Timothy Snyder explains how when a new technology comes along it actually has a disruptive effect at first while our "hardware" gets adjusted to it. Much like books before, the Internet is having the same destabilising effect which can be used to create an authoritarian regime.
[...] think back to say the 16th century when the printing press is beginning to make hay, what happens is that people are overwhelmed by new ideas, specifically religious world views are challenged, and religions fracture, and people fight wars, and a third of the European population is killed. So we think about the book and we think “That’s Enlightenment,” but Enlightenment happens 150 years after the printing press, and in the meantime an awful lot of Europeans killing off a lot of other Europeans.
So I like to take that as the starting point—that new media are going to be destabilizing. And so the assumption that the Internet was going to come along and just take a basically good world and make it faster and more connected and cleaner and so on—that was something that we should have been skeptical about from the very beginning. And now we’re seeing why we should be skeptical about it.
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