Tragedy of the Internet

The Internet, I have learned, is a strange place. The incredible power of mass communications tends to re-balance the playing field. In fact, it often inverts it. The predator becomes the prey and the prey the predator.

For example take spammers. Offline, it's at their expense to send you junk. It's simply to expensive and time consuming to send mail to a billion people every day. Online, it's trivial. The spammer has transferred his work load to the spammees. It's the people receiving the spam that now have to put in the effort to search through their e-mail.

Similarly, on the Internet, men could proposition every single woman on dating sites. Why not? It's easy to do, and you have nothing to lose. This is physically impossible offline. It then becomes the women's responsibility to figure out who to respond to. The roles have swapped.

When sending your resume to employers, you might as well send it to everyone. Then it's the employers responsibility to read through all the resumes. The work has shifted from job seeker to employer.

In some ways this is a good thing. Employers now have more options then they otherwise would have had. On the other hand, there's a lot more noise.

If you're familiar with the Tragedy of the Commons, you might see some parallels here. Everyone is doing what makes the most sense for him or her, and it's basically harmless in small numbers, but the Internet as a whole tends to suffer. I'm calling it the Tragedy of the Internet.