The Internet and its Unintentional By-Product: Influence

With the advent of the internet around 1990, the world had to wait a decade or two before it became the prominent form of media. Inherent in its design, its purpose was to generate a computer-based network on a global scale. Designing the internet like this is key to the convenience we all profit from now. What you probably turn a blind eye to in favour of a quick google search is the fact that the internet is full of spandrels. A spandrel? Nowadays, the word spandrel is as common as a telegraph. 

By-Product of The Design

Spandrels are noticeable, triangular gaps you see on many arches, and they look like they were designed to be there intentionally. But the truth is that spandrels are just by-products of the design. They are like your appendix – evolved to be there but are precisely there because it was granted conception through the overall design of the system. The arch that forms the structure is intentionally designed when the spandrel is just a by-product of the pervading arch. The internet has its share of spandrels.

The Influencer’s Influencer 

One spandrel of the internet is that everyone has the chance to gain fame, or its dark side counterpart called notoriety. The original design of the internet was just a way to connect individual computers to a worldwide network. Gaining influence on the network was a long way down the road when computer scientists drew up its design. Many famous people up until now were confined to more traditional forms of media that have a bottleneck towards how many people they can reach. The internet shattered this bottleneck ever since the intentional design of the social networks. Increasing the likelihood of fame and influence seems like it has enticed everyone to carve out a slice of the pie – not just any pie, the money pie. Money is the influencer’s influencer. Acquiring money sometimes gets a bad rap in the greed department, however, another spandrel of the internet comes about in how that money is spent. The internet has made banking more efficient and I’m sure that is a feature of this spandrel. However, that is boring; what’s more exciting is how influencers spend their money to do the influencing. These influencer’s spend money to make money, a concept that is tried and tested. But how they spend their money in exchange for views and likes is really entertaining. We all know what the most successful Youtuber Mr. Beast does, but I personally prefer when unsuspecting waiters and waitresses receive a substantial amount of the influencer’s influence, who in turn receive an even greater amount of views in the process. Talk about instant karma (or gratification). 

Phone Pull

The degree of connectedness one can achieve through a screen is mind blowing. If you’re a millennial, you must remember what it was like before social media. Granted, we were only kids then, however, I do remember what it was like to not have that constant pull of a cellphone in your pocket as if you were metal and the phone a magnet. Free moments during the day were occupied in ways other than the 30 second scroll. A gorgeous plate of food didn’t have a minute to cool down to snap pictures. For better or worse a cultural paradigm shift happened, and the millennials are likely the last generation to witness a world pre-social media. Humans have programmed this technology but, in many ways, it has programmed us like an unintentional spandrel. Just notice what you do when you’re waiting in line for the bus. It’s happened to all of us: the second there’s a break in conversation or a chiming of a notification, we’re quick to grab the weapon of mass attentive destruction. Be aware of the pull and instead just look around. Your immediate surroundings and more importantly, who’s in them, deserve much more attention than a spandrel. 

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