It wasn’t bad to be a wrong optimist

From the vantage point of 2019 the Internet is a supreme mess. Elsagate. 8chan. Phone spam at 1/2 of all calls.

But back when the Internet was young I believed in it. It was going to bring democratization, not autocracy; decentralization, not FAANG; anonymity, not surveillance capitalism.

Like how in 1942 nearly everybody in the US was called up to either the military or the home front, most of us in the sunrise days of the web joined the cause in one way or another.

I studied composing and went off to write CGI scripts. My friend Adam got a MA from the super-swanky JFK School at Harvard and became a sysadmin. His wife Mary got a MA in literature and became a website coordinator. This was how we wanted things to be. It felt amazing, not ignominious.

WW II was followed by McCarthy.  The hippie lifestyle illusion was a setup for what happened to poor Sharon Tate, Tarantino be damned. Email was in invented in 1978, and spam was invented in… 1978.

I’m not sorry to have been a believer, by the way. It wasn’t so bad to be a wrong optimist. Maybe the frontier was a better world that came and went. Maybe we don’t know the end of the story yet. Maybe our current world is better than it would have been. I just don’t know. Being so wrong about so much for so long has been a golden opportunity to learn humility.