June 25, 2024

I heard an interesting analogy the other day. Someone referred to the internet as a global brain. In this analogy, all of the internet users are neurons in a giant brain the encompasses the globe. We are all part of the living organism that represents the entire group of users of the internet.

This concept suddenly clicked with me when I considered it in conjunction with the content on the internet. All the potty and posturing that is on the internet doesn’t really make sense. Why do people behave the way they do?Backstabbing, infighting, brazen stupidity, simple ignorance. Most people would never be this rude in front of a another person.

With the brain analogy it suddenly begins to make sense. My brain says all sorts of crazy crap that never makes it to my mouth (gratefully).  All the random chatter that meditation seeks to calm. All the processes in our brain that fire on autopilot. Imagine how it would appear being observed from the outside. It would look like complete gibberish at best and bile at worst if we could actually read someone else’s thoughts and see everything that’s happening in their heads.

Many of the posts and content on the internet seem easy to interpret, but in reality they are all deeply out of context, absent from the individual’s brain that generated them. With context lost the overarching message starts to distill as others join into the chorus of voices. Themes appear, patterns stabilize and the global brain distills a thought. Or, more often, the thought simply sparks and then dies out, un-noted and anonymous

Reading through the internet, thinking in terms of a global brain, you can see how this starts to resonate. In a way you’re able to see the global mind at work and read it’s thoughts. Frequently this is useless and frustrating. It’s hard to understand why some things would happen, or appear to take shape the way they do. It’s easier to allow space for the chaos when you realize you’re tapped into a mind and reading random thoughts on it.

Thinking about this, I reconsider the value of telepathy. If you could read someone’s mind, I’m guessing the bulk of the information you would come away with would not be worth the reams of paper you wrote it down on. True telepathy would probably just be an exercise in frustration. Out of context thoughts would appear random and frustrating.

There may be something tangible and useful to the concept of the internet as a global brain. Or perhaps it’s just a powerful thought experiment to look at something familiar in a new way. Either way my internal brain is having a field day churning on the implications.



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