The problem with democracy.

HandsDemocracy isn’t a perfect system, it’s just the best one we’ve found yet. And as with anything that’s not perfect, you’ve got issues that can become pretty freakin’ annoying after a while. On the Internet, which is probably the most extreme form of democracy we have, everyone can express their opinion equally. And it seems that most of these are: “THIS SUCKS!”

I’m sure you’ve come across this idea yourself: whether it’s on the net or in real life, it sometimes seems like people are never happy. About anything. “People” will bitch and moan all day long, and all you hear about in the news is controversy. And from there it’s easy to go to the conclusion the rest of the world is a bunch of dumb saps that will always be unhappy, no matter what the topic is.

Well, while I agree that most people are probably dumb saps, I still think that this view is a sort of optical illusion. The thing is, there is no idea in the world that will get a unanimous approval. And I mean none, like, ever! Go with me on this: try to think of an idea that would garner universal approval in a modern western society. Even the brightest, shiniest, happiest proposal would get a couple of groups of people who would violently oppose it. As long as it’s something “realistic”, it will make some people unhappy.

– Universal healthcare is a great idea in theory (give medical care to the sick), but you get the obvious and valid question of “who’s gonna pay for it?”
– Stopping the wars and the horrors in the world would be awesome, but who has the right to decide what’s right for other people? Some will say “why the hell aren’t we doing something?!”, and others will aswer “you had no right to go in Iraq”…
– Let’s give condoms to teenagers so they don’t get STDs! “Oh yeah, but they shouldn’t have sex in the first place!” Well, let’s prevent them from having sex then. “Dude, have you ever met a teenager? They will have sex no matter what, seriously.”
– Let’s tax cigarettes and prevent people from smoking indoors, surely noone will opose the idea of not getting sick. “Hey, you’re taking away my freedom to do whatever the hell I want!”
– Give free puppies to every sad little boy and girl in the world. “Yeah, and who’s gonna clean their crap off the floor?”
I guess you get the idea.

So  my premise is this: there will always be some people sincerely opposed to any idea you put out, no matter how great it sounds to you and yours.
Now think of a world where everyone can express their opinion. We don’t actually have a lot of experience with this concept. When democracy was first conceived, it was very loose on the definition of “everyone has a voice”. But in a modern democracy, for every single idea in the world that is expressed in a public forum you will find a group of people that will be very critical about it.
And they will have the rights (democracy) and the means to express themselves (Internet or traditional media).

Is that really a good thing? Is there such a thing as too much democracy? Boy is that a can of worms…

So anyway, from there it’s very easy to think that “people” criticize everything. Of course, in reality you only have one have a fraction of the people actually complaining about each topic, but the result is that every idea and opinion gets shot down and criticized. And this gives the impression that “people” in general are never happy.

Well, I’m probably not saying anything that you don’t know already. I just wanted to formalize this a bit, because I tend to be very cynical and declare that “people always complain”. I should remember: it’s not that everyone complains all the time, it’s that there’s always someone that will complain.

And it’s just… Sometimes I wish they would just shut the fuck up. But they’re entitled to their opinion. And that’s the problem with democracy.

January 6th, 2009