As the Digg Turns

There’s been quite a bit of drama going on the popular news networking site, Digg, lately. I guess it proves the old adage, “The Internet is serious business.” Or more accurately, people sometimes make it more serious than it should be.

Since I’m on vacation, I’ve had a little time to watch the drama unfold. I have to admit, it’s quite entertaining – kind of like a real-life soap opera. (Btw – I got the name of this blog post from a site that keeps track of all the soap opera antics on Digg. Well, I think it only has one post so far, lol.)

Digg is like an immune system. It usually works pretty well, but every now and then it turns and attacks itself, wreaking havoc everywhere. Last summer that happened with a kindergarten-esque uprising against a popular Digg user. This time around, it happened when a user aptly named RaisedInHell decided to voraciously seek his 15 minutes of Internet fame.

The controversy began with a submission from Raised about “power” users on Digg who submit duplicates of stories. Big arguments ensued, with Raised posting additional stories and comments supporting his new cause célèbre.

But the one tried-and-true rule of the Internet eventually surfaced: There is always someone out there who has more spare time than you.

A Digg user looked into Raised’s history and discovered that he submits duplicates also – the exact actions he complained about. This pretty much took the life out of Raised’s revolt. The same crowd that had taken up for Raised was now turning against him. The cycle had gone full circle.

There are a few lessons we can take from this:

  • It’s just the Internet.
    Really. If you’re getting that worked up over something online, you need a little perspective. Step outside. Call a friend. Go to the gym. Maybe take a 24-hour “Internet free” day.
  • What goes around comes around.
    It’s all fun and games until the tide of criticism turns back against you. Remember that if you’re going to dish something, or jump on a bandwagon against someone, it will eventually come back to haunt you.
  • People are not what they seem.
    First, there are real people behind user names. Let’s not forget that. But second, anonymity breeds animosity. You never know who you’re really dealing with or what a person is really like. The best course of action is civility.
  • If you want to make changes, pick a better cause.
    A lot of time and energy went into this revolt. But if you really have a heart to campaign for change, it might be good to direct that energy somewhere besides Digg. Maybe helping the environment? Speaking out against the atrocities in Africa? That time, energy, and talent at rallying people to a cause can be directed to something truly beneficial.

It’s been entertaining to watch this drama unfold. In fact, I think someone aiming for a PhD in psychology could write a really interesting paper about the social and emotional dynamics that play into group cyber-bullying. Anyone out there up to it?

And if you have any additional “rules of the Internet” to share, please leave them in your comments here. 🙂

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5 responses to “As the Digg Turns

  1. Social news is always going to foster in a bad crowd. Everyone always tries to find a shortcut or a way to “game” the system. Professional sports, work, life, its all the same. Its always been this way and its almost human nature….

  2. I just hate seeing people being so cruel to each other. It turns my insides all around. It scares me when people just think it is okay to behave so ill mannered toward each other just because they think nobody may know who they are or that they are acting anonymously. It’s so irresponsible and we are talking about adults here. Sad.

  3. Kraze – Good point. You find these types of situations everywhere, not just online.

    Teeni – Agreed. It’s really frightening to think that people can have such a cruel side in them. 😦

  4. It’s funny how a lot of people on Digg act like it is such an integral part of their existence. It’s a website! If they pulled the plug today, life would actually still go on as usual. Who knew?

  5. Teeni assumes we’re talking about adults. But are we? On the Internet, you never really know who you’re dealing with. You can’t be sure of their age, intent, state of mind, or anything else. I view everything on the web with a very skeptical eye.

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