Was Hobbes right? A reflection on the Social Networks

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes stated in the 17th century that, before human societies were established, a state of nature existed, characterized by the war of all against all. Savage and brutal creatures used to wander through the world with no rules nor laws, only obedient to the instincts of self-preservation and oppression. Homo homini lupus.

Nowadays, this state (which is merely hypothetical anyway) would no longer exist, thanks to the establishment of modern societies. Yet, something may have survived. Something much more real than a speculation.

I refer to the Social Networks. A virtual world with no rules – nor, if they existed, they could be enforced. Anonymity, as a matter of fact, has become a guarantee of impunity, to the point that it’s possible to insult, to slander, to bully anyone for any wretched reason (today, those who dare reasoning against the ruling single thought are particularly targeted); in the worst cases, it can even lead an innocent victim to get rid of persecution in the only, atrocious way which in that moment seems feasible. With no consequences for the craven.

Private wish must rise to a right publicly acknowledged, and man, who’s a wolf to another man, becomes god to himself.

Neither reputation nor prestige is worth anymore. Mass media have been induced a levelling to mediocrity for decades, and now this process is being accompanied by the arrogance which claims every opinion must be equally valued – the one of an expert and the one of an ignorant.

In the near future, the excellent ones will be ostracized just like Hermodorus, banished from Ephesus because his fellow-citizens didn’t want anyone to be outstanding in their homeland.

Hobbes could never provide an effective explanation of how such beastly beings could make the Covenant which was to lead to the origin of modern societies. Whatever happened, we just can hope the process may be replicated – and well soon.

Because too many rules are rarely good. But the anarchy, the absence of laws is bad, it’s always been, and always will be.

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