A pervading online misogyny is the most visible reason why the internet is failing to live up to its potential to improve people's lives…I… What? Says whom?
… a report for a digital charity has concluded.Ah. OK. That can be safely ignored then.
Charles Leadbeater, an author and former policy adviser to the Labour government, argues in the report A Better Web, that the problem is so serious one solution could be awards for women who successfully contend with online abuse.“Well done, sweetie, that was very brave of you! What a good girl! Here’s a bright shiny bauble for you!”
I’m betting, given the two quoted examples, that ‘successfully contending with online abuse’ does not mean using the block options or giving as good as you get, but rather running to the press and demanding new laws to stop people being able to disagree with you…
He cites research that the most important signifier of a safe and vibrant public space is "the presence of women and families – when they felt comfortable it was a sign that the space was good for everyone".I suppose it really rather depends on the sort of women and family, though. I personally wouldn’t feel any safer with these creatures around, would you?
Nor is this the only aspect of the online world confounding this beard-stroking ‘intellectual’:
Leadbeater mentions targeted advertising as an example of the sort of questionable gift offered by the modern internet, telling the story of a friend who was especially pleased with the presents his wife bought for his 40th birthday.
"Each one [of the presents] hit the spot," Leadbeater writes. "That was because, unbeknown to him and in the two weeks prior to his birthday, his wife had been treated to a string of advertisements on her Facebook page, each carefully chosen to appeal to the wife of a jolly, Welsh, bearded, rugby loving, cider-making public professional.
He adds: "Was this a helpful service to a time-pressed working mother of two who needed ideas for her husband's birthday, or a worrying sign of the kind of knowledge that services like Facebook have about us and which could be used in far from benign ways without our knowing?"Most sensible people, realising everyone else seems to have been happy – the wife, the giftee and the companies that sold the goods – would say ‘Well, the former, of course!’ and think no more about it.