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Internet must be removed!

The internet has to go away
Forfatter: Schlecky Silberstein
Forlag: Albrecht Knaus Verlag (München)
One of Germany's best-known bloggers, Schlecky Silberstein, states that attention is the most important currency in the 21. century and that the internet creates anxiety.


Schlecky Silberstein – a pseudonym for Christian Brandes (b. 1981) – is one of Germany's most famous bloggers, and his website, has approx. 600 regular readers. The title of Silberstein / Brandes' latest book, The internet has to go away ("The internet must go away" is not sufficient for the book's content; it is social media in particular he goes to. The book is a settlement with a medium he owes everything. But the whole 2017 used Silberstein to find out why the web has a negative impact in most areas of life.

The author is a practitioner, not a theoretician, and has been online since the beginning of the Internet. Although he has not yet filled 40, he sounds like an old veteran when he says that he can actually remember a time when the web was not there.

Mutti goes AfD

Silberstein discovered that her mother had become an Alternative für Deutschland activist on Facebook with over 4000 "friends" she did not know. Suddenly a former leftist social educator for Pegida demonstrated! A former Berlin pensioner had become a glowing Trump supporter.

In a situation of increasing spread of fake news and political manipulation, defense and secret services are the best media analysts.

The mother's activism was solely due likefactor, Silberstein thinks. By sharing right-wing propaganda, she got far more likes than before. Just in February 2017, she posted 107 comments on the nation's state on Facebook, sounding like a mix of Middle East expert and Kremlin insider. LikeThe feature was launched on Facebook in February 2009. Thus, Pandora's box was opened: The Age of Attention Economics has begun. Mother's Facebook activity had nothing to do with politics, but with dopamine, according to Silberstein. She went for what clicked the most. Liberal and nuanced news gradually disappeared from the newsfeed. Through this self-reinforcing algorithm, she had created an echo chamber.

Fake news from low-wage countries

A small town in Macedonia became central to spreading fake news that supported Trump in the election campaign. It turned out that the action was initiated by a young man who was not really interested in politics but in making money. He discovered that the clicks came as ordered when he spread fake news of the type: "The Pope discourages voters from voting Clinton." As he made a lot of money compared to the average village income, he also inspired friends and colleagues to produce fake news for Trump.

Silberstein has also – as an experiment – spread false news supporting right-wing populism in Germany. He made a statement about a non-existent representative of the Greens, Petra Klamm-Rothberger: "Green politicians defend murder studies for rape." Rationale: “In the perpetrator's homeland, raped women are sentenced to death. Therefore, he had to kill her after the rape. We need to understand these cultural differences. " The website had such great success that Silberstein had to take it down after a few weeks.

What provokes outrage is spreading the most. Therefore, it is important to create something that sets the minds in the boil. Excitement ensures spread. Silberstein states that attention is the most important currency of the 21st century. The web creates addiction. This is planned in Silicon Valley in terms of addictive design. The major network companies are constantly gathering information about us. When something is free, we really work for them. The internet is a casino that encompasses all areas of life. It manipulates us to hold on for as long as possible. Silberstein believes that using social media should be treated like any other form of addiction.


The internet creates anxiety, according to Silberstein. Anxiety fertilizes data, and data has now become the most important raw material in the world. Facebook is bombarding users with opportunities to interact. Computer capitalism lives on activating emotions. Silberstein brings an evolutionary perspective: Anxiety is important for survival, while luxury emotions such as love and happiness mean little in the evolutionary context. Anxiety gives super powers because the brain reacts most to negative news. He relies on Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, who talks about a "dominance of negativity": We respond more quickly to negative news. Interaction takes place when we feel threatened. Anger, sadness or anxiety spread most quickly virally.

Ida Jackson enjoys writing in the book Social media (2010) on how Tron Øgrim (1947–2007) proclaimed that the Internet had realized communism by abolishing private property. The internet would save the world! It seems like an eternity ago. Now the criticism of digital capitalism is at the center. Belief in the revolutionary significance of the Internet has also faded sharply after the Arab Spring of 2011.

In a situation of increasing spread of fake news and political manipulation, defense and secret services are the best media analysts. Colonel Jarred Prier mentioned in an article on the information war in Strategic Studies Quarterly in 2017 that 15 percent of all Twitter accounts are run by robots. So-called "bot accounts" are non-human accounts that tweet and retweet based on a set of programmed rules or an algorithm.

With fake Twitter accounts and IP addresses, anyone can create their own shit storm. Through a viral effect, the news spreads quickly before being checked against the facts. True or False: False news has an effect regardless. I hope I'm wrong, but probably we've only seen the beginning of this development. Those who previously believed online have now moderated their enthusiasm significantly.

Silberstein's book is one of many expressions of this disillusionment.

Eivind Tjønneland
Eivind Tjønneland
Historian of ideas and author. Regular critic in MODERN TIMES. (Former professor of literature at the University of Bergen.)

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