Nobody likes dictators, right? Hitler, Stalin, Ceausescu, Amin, Pinochet, Hoxha, Pot, Franco….. all names that for most people generate feelings of revulsion and people who are generally considered to have been BAD. But I wonder if society as a whole actually needs to be dictated to by someone or something? I mean, being dictated to does not have to involve mass murder, take Thatcher for example, or Blair, were they really much more than dictators with a better bedside manner? As the ‘characters’ of the past are replaced by vapid cardboard cut-out leaders the likes of Brown, Tusk, Cameron et al do we then crave dictatorship from other sources and are those sources now largely living on the world wide web?
I’m thinking, Facebook, just as one example. Google may be another one but there are many more. Wikipedia even, despite its philanthropic stance. Any seriously heavily used portal, application, networking site is now something that has the ability to dictate how we live our lives, what we do with our time, what information we are allowed to get, what junk we should have to put up with, how we should get things done. “Visit us on Facebook”, “Just Google it”, “I found this on Wikipedia”, “Johnny is currently enjoying the Naff Puzzle”, “Clarissa is following you”, “Would you like Ricky to be your friend?”.………… are we entering the age of virtual dictators? Will they end up being any better for us than the last lot? Fewer deaths, no doubt, but I genuinely worry about where this could all end up and I suspect it is a long way away from the free, open, democratic, hippy-like vision we all had for the www when it first hit the streets. You can argue that these places are far easier to avoid than were any of the people in my initial list but that, I’m sorry to say, is fast becoming a difficult argument to make.