Has the internet benefited dissidents or the thought police more?
A recent comment somewhere at Steve Sailer's blog stated a widely held view about the power of the internet to give dissenting voices a megaphone, so that dissidents are better off in the online age.
And yet here we are, with political correctness worse than you could've imagined even as recently as the early '90s. The President is black and endorsing gay marriage -- didn't see that one coming. Quite plainly the internet hasn't empowered the anti-PC people very much, and perhaps has even undercut what little power they used to have.
I haven't heard anyone touch on that before -- that the internet allows not only the dissidents but also the thought police to more effectively reach their targets. True, you're more exposed to dissenting viewpoints now than in 1990, but you were exposed enough to them back then that they weren't secret. Of course the homos brought AIDS on themselves, of course blacks commit crime at higher rates than whites, and of course part of what makes someone more successful is being smarter. You could've heard your neighbor make these observations in casual conversation.
In the social psychology literature on conformity, people tend to go along with the wrong answer, unless there is even a single dissenter. For example, you're asked which of two lines is longer, everyone else says the short line is longer, and you tend to go along by saying the short line is longer. But when one other person says the long line is longer, suddenly you go with the right answer -- "So I wasn't crazy after all, someone else thought that the others were nuts, too!"
If the internet had in that way brought us some dissenting voices where zero had reached us before, it would have been beneficial to dissidents. I don't really see that, though. Like I said, who never heard someone say out loud that blacks are more violent than whites?
Since it seems to be more of a change in the degree of exposure to dissenting voices that we'd already heard, we also have to look at how much more we get exposed to the thought police via the internet. It's the net effect of those opposing forces that tells us what the internet has done for dissidents.
Well, just like in the offline world, the orthodox viewpoints have more megaphones, louder ones, and ones that are cross-linked or teamed up with one another. In the good old days, you had to search out a propaganda forum like the op-ed pages to find the thought police reminding you what the official story was.
These days online, it sets up base wherever you might go. You may just be doing a casual google search, and up pops a post from a discussion forum, one of those yahoo question/answer pages, blog posts, ad nauseam, that shout out some bit of PC orthodoxy. Not to mention the endless stream of bullshit from Twitter and Facebook feeds. It's also a lot easier for the foot soldiers of the Establishment to link to an op-ed or whatever by the mainstream media, which propagates it much faster than when the same pipsqueak would have had to clip out or xerox the article and paste a bunch of copies up around the office, student union, or wherever, like a jackass.
You shouldn't jump too quickly to praise some new bit of technology just because you see some way that it could make you better off. You need to think if it will make your enemies even better off. In a contest, it's only the relative gain you make against your adversary that counts, not your absolute gain seen in isolation.