COMMENT:

If you're under 30 then: a) what are you doing reading a newspaper? And b) you have never known a time without the internet. This week marked 30 years since Tim Berners-Lee submitted Information Management: A Proposal to his bosses at CERN, giving birth to the worldwide web.

It was an unintended consequence of his work there on the Large Hadron Collider, about which you don't hear nearly as much these days.

Do not listen to nostalgist Luddites who will tell you we were better off without it. The internet, for all its faults, has improved everything.

Advertisement

Communications, commerce, any number of details of daily life, from knowing the weather and tides to keeping control of how much you spend, are all easier now. At no or little cost you can see the best movies, hear the finest music and read the best books.

Last week an acquaintance told me joyfully about meeting his overseas grandchild for the first time. The child was a toddler by then but thanks to the internet and Skype they already had a relationship on which they could build.

It's ironic that in this 30th anniversary week, Facebook and Instagram crashed, prompting the inevitable headline "People are taking to Twitter to say they are unable to access Facebook and Instagram".

What happens to food photos and kitten dancing videos that don't get on social media? And without them, where would people go to complain? That is one downside of the internet. It shows that if you build it, they will come – and whine. This anniversary also means it is about 30 years minus one week since people with the slightest reasons to be vexed realised they could use the internet to vent, magnify their dudgeon and expose it to the world. We live in a culture of trivial complaint. A few examples:

Sometime back a Devonport community Facebook group was consumed with anguish over the fact that seaweed had washed up on the beach. And stayed there. Seaweed. On the beach.

Auckland Transport has more than enough to worry about without the extra burden imposed by social media. Take the great pine needle crisis of March 2019. There are almost certainly hours of bureaucratic pain behind this clenched-teeth tweet from AT: "We received a few messages about the amount of pine needles covering the Northwestern Cycleway and St Lukes Rd which worsened over the weekend due to inclement weather. This morning we passed this on to our contractor and by this afternoon, they were gone."

"Kiwis angry over Burger Fuel's 'ridiculous' fake parking ticket flyers" was a real headline last week. If that makes them angry, wait until they find out about child poverty levels.

Then there's Captain Marvel, the already enormously successful marvel superheroine movie which opened last week. Fathers and mothers finally had a superhero action movie to which they could take their daughters to show them a positive role model in a costume.

But some very delicate men piled online to list the ways in which they felt demeaned by the movie's attitude to their sex. Among their top complaints was that the film includes that scene. You know – the one showing super secret agent Nick Fury washing dishes.

Let's hope they never find out that in the comics, Thor has been lately reinvented as a goddess, throwing the whole hammer symbolism completely out of whack.

The student strike over inaction on climate change has brought out even more inane complaint than usual, such as that from someone upset because their taxes are paying for those kids to be in school.

Fortunately, like a lot of the complaining you hear online, no one is taking it seriously. Many more people listened to the students and their message.