A new Internet Engineering Task Force draft proposes to apologise for social media.
Issued on Monday July 16th, the draft titled “Social Media (An Apology)” is signed by “The Elders of the Internet” and opens by noting “Recently, you may have noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of opprobrium, outrage, hate speech and overall bile on your favorite social media channel.”
“The Elders of the Internet apologize unreservedly for this disruption.”
The group say they’ve recently been focussing on security standards and therefore “were caught unawares when the Internet became the sink for every poorly-considered argument, paranoid thought when you wake up in the dead of night, and shrieking nutjob you'd usually cross the street to avoid.” They blame social media for amplifying arguments, reducing productivity and even making it hard to breathe.
And then they apologise for their lack of foresight and not having done something to stop the current state of affairs, as follows:
In retrospect, we should have known; USENET was a pretty clear warning. We will do better.
Happily, the draft proposes a fix. The Elders suggest that adopting a meme-only diet could be useful, as memes are “a time-proven way to express disdain, mocking and other sentiments while maintaining an air of light humor. They can therefore be helpful in a transition away from full-throated, deeply-felt outrage.”
“In other words, they’re the methadone of the internet.”
There’s also a call for net-users to adopt blocklists to avoid “undesirable content, and responsible social networks.”
“Recommending a specific blocklist is out of scope for this document, but we suggest starting with "Trump" and working outwards from there” the draft states.
The draft is, of course, all in good fun. “Elders of the Internet” was a term used by The IT Crowd in the episode that famously packed the internet into a box (and claimed “The Hawk” – aka Stephen Hawking” as a member.
The Elders are clearly aware of that gag as the draft says a fond farewell to Hawking.
The Elders have, however, outed themselves as reachable at either “the usual IPv6 address” or firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to apply for membership. ®