The internet is a vast world of opportunity where anyone can put out their voice and reach out to the world. Did you know that? I think I heard it somewhere once or twice. I think I believed it when I was younger: I started a blog once before, in the 90s, then retreated to the comfort of LiveJournal where pretensions of granduer could be abandoned in favor of quiet talk among friends.
What I find most amazing about the Internet isn't those moments where one voice gets through and reaches multitudes, whether it's through a frightful video on YouTube or the rising fame of a webcomic or a well-timed political sex scandal blog.
No, what amazes me is the number of voices that ring out on the Internet and reach...silence. Every second people post to Livejournal or blogs or forums or fanfiction websites with work that will go virtually, if you'll pardon the pun, unnoticed. This post, for instance, can hope for at best the casual gaze of a few class members in a small graduate course. Anyone else reading it might have stumbled in and can just as quickly stumble out. The voices that get heard remaind the loudest: those powered by the money to create good site design, advertising, and presence. Everything else is an exception, not the rule. Yet people continue to make all this content, devoting hours of their time to everything from Mummies Alive fansites to passionate political tirades, all with the knowledge that only a few people will read it and even fewer will care.
It's not particularly meaningful that younger folks can no longer name the big 4 TV networks, as they once might have been able to with ease. It simply means there are other outlets competing for their attention--and quite often, those outlets are just part of the same old picture, with most of secondary television and many major sites on the 'net following under the control of one or another big media powers.
The Internet is not yet the promised land of any to many communication. It offers the potential for great things, but not the follow through. And let's face it, in an unedited world, there are a million things on any topic not worth reading waiting for Google to find. With so much noise, it's a wonder any of the great ones break through at all. But it's even more a wonder that so many voices continue to reach out when there is so little to expect in return.