“As the internet of 2017 has changed, so has the internet user”

As the internet of 2017 has changed, so has the internet user. We are now in the majority, and our experience is defined by plenitude and freedom, still, but also by a growing sense of exploitation. We find ourselves aware of the power and unaccountability of the new marketplaces in which we socialize, communicate and do business. To cast our recurring panics as technophobic reruns is to misidentify what animates them most: Not fear, but helplessness.

It would be a mistake to give credence to every noisy critique of a platform, and some of the inevitable panics about Facebook, Google and Twitter — not to mention Amazon — will be bolstered by sheer reactionary traditionalism. But in more cases, these panics will reveal themselves as concrete complaints, addressed to people and companies whose responsibility for the networks that connect us — for better and for worse — will finally start to catch up with their power.

John Herrman, “On Technology”, The New York Times Magazine (10 December 2017), 22.