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Tuesday, 25 June 2019

10 CASES OF BIZARRE MEDICAL AILMENTS


10 Cases Of Bizarre Medical Ailments
By James Fenner,
Listverse, 25 June 2019.

Medical dramas are spreading across US television networks like wildfire. From Chicago Med to The Good Doctor, it would seem that people yearn to understand the complex and fragile nature of the human body.

Through the power of television, we are given a glimpse of the mysterious world beneath our own skin. We learn about what happens when these processes start to unravel, feeding our fascination with sickness and mortality.

While the body remains remarkable - having adapted to a range of climates, diets, and activities - it is not without its weaknesses. Sometimes, the immune system goes haywire, the pumping power of the heart dwindles, or genetic mutations corrupt some vital aspect of our metabolism.

But every once in a while, disease does something to the body so rare that it warrants special attention. Without further ado, we’ll take a look at 10 fascinating cases of bizarre medical ailments.

10. Drunk On Carbs

Photo credit: BBC

Every morning, Nick Hess would wake up and vomit. The 35-year-old experienced a number of unexplained symptoms, including stomach pains, nausea, and headaches. Hess frequently found himself intoxicated without a drop of alcohol passing his lips. “Sometimes, it would come on over the course of a few days; sometimes, it was just like ‘bam! I’m drunk,’ ” said Hess.

His wife initially suspected that he was an alcoholic in denial. Karen Daws searched their family home for a secret stash of booze but came up empty. Although Nick was subjected to a battery of medical tests, doctors remained baffled by their patient’s condition.

Through Karen’s own research, the Ohio couple eventually made contact with Dr. Anup Kanodia. After taking stool and blood samples, Kanodia discovered that Nick’s gut had around 400 percent more yeast than normal.

It turned out that Nick had a condition called auto-brewery syndrome. A particular type of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) in Nick’s gut was responsible for excessive fermentation of carbohydrate-rich meals. The resultant alcohol was then absorbed across the intestine, thereby raising his blood alcohol levels.

While auto-brewery syndrome is an established condition, there remains much debate over whether the amount of alcohol produced in the gut can lead to any significant intoxication. Over the years, a number of individuals accused of drunk driving have used auto-brewery syndrome as part of their defense.

In 2015, charges of drunk driving against a New York woman were dropped after it emerged that she was suffering from auto-brewery syndrome. Anup Kanodia was asked to test the woman’s blood alcohol levels. The woman was monitored for an entire day to ensure that she could not consume any alcohol. By the end of the testing period, it was discovered that she had a blood alcohol content of 0.36 - over four times the legal limit for driving.

As for Nick, he currently takes antifungal tablets to control the yeast levels in his gut. He also adheres to a low-carbohydrate, low-yeast diet.

9. Hyperekplexia


Also known as “exaggerated surprise,” hyperekplexia is an inherited disorder that causes an increase in muscle tone. The most obvious symptom of this rare disease is something called “excessive startle reflex.” Sufferers appear to overreact to simple surprises, leading to exaggerated movements. This is then followed by a brief moment of rigidity, where the patient cannot move at all.

It is estimated that 1 in 40,000 people in the United States have hyperekplexia. Researchers believe that genetic hyperekplexia is the result of mutations in certain receptors of the brain stem. These mutations prevent the normal “dampening” signals that would otherwise lessen the startle reflex.

The condition presents considerable danger to newborn babies as the startle reflex can cause breathing problems. This certainly remains the case for one British boy, Jacob Madgin. As a baby, Magdin’s condition was so severe that he needed to be fed through a tube. The mere touch of a teat against the boy’s nose was enough to trigger a spasm that interrupted his breathing.

From the sound of a dog barking to the splash of water, almost anything can set off an episode. “You never know what might trigger Jacob’s condition. When I was opening a box of blueberries, the noise of the plastic as I opened the lid set him off,” explained the boy’s mother.

8. Phantom Rectum Syndrome

Photo credit: BBC

Sometimes, surgeons are tasked with bypassing part of a patient’s diseased or injured intestine. To do this, the healthy part of the intestine is cut away from the diseased part and redirected through the abdomen. Waste matter passes through this opening, called a stoma, and is collected in a colostomy or ileostomy bag. As a result of stoma surgery, feces no longer reach the rectum.

Some stoma patients keep their rectums. In this case, the bowel continues to create a lubricant that is supposed to help with the movement of food. When there is no passage of food, however, this mucus can sometimes form a dry, painful ball that needs to be passed.

Patients who have had their rectums removed may also feel the urge to defecate - an experience known as phantom rectum syndrome. Many have reported feeling the need to pass gas (phantom flatus) and feces (phantom feces). Phantom pain of the region is associated with burning, stinging, and pins and needles.

In 2013, BBC presenter Sam Cleasby underwent an operation to have part of her colon removed after suffering for years with ulcerative colitis. She is now on a mission to spread awareness of stomas and break down the stigma surrounding the use of stoma bags.

Sam has previously spoken about what phantom rectum syndrome feels like: “People who have lost a limb still feel pain or itching, or they feel like their limb’s still there. [...] So that’s the same but in your rectum. It’s like your brain doesn’t know that it’s not attached anymore.”

7. Sweating Blood

Photo credit: cmaj.ca

In 2017, an Italian woman was admitted to the hospital with one horrifying symptom: spontaneous bleeding of the palms and face. The episodes would last up to five minutes and could strike at any moment. The 21-year-old struggled for three years before finally seeking medical attention. Understandably, the woman felt self-conscious about her ailment. She shut herself away from the rest of the world and started to develop the telltale signs of depression and panic disorder.

Doctors initially suspected their patient of having factitious disorder - a mental health issue in which a patient attempts to fake a medical condition, usually in a bid to receive attention or sympathy. Factitious disorder is not uncommon, costing the US around $40 million every year.

However, it quickly became apparent that the woman was not self-harming. Doctors witnessed firsthand the “discharge of bloodstained fluid” from the woman’s forehead and lower face.

The team eventually diagnosed the woman with hematohidrosis. Although the exact cause of the disease remains a mystery, the condition often occurs in patients who are under extreme emotional or physical stress. The tiny capillaries that supply blood to the sweat glands are said to rupture and leak. The blood then enters the sweat glands, mixes with sweat, and oozes its way to the skin’s surface.

Cases of hematohidrosis have been documented in people with acute fear. The phenomenon may even date back to the time of Jesus Christ. The day before his crucifixion, Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. According to Luke’s Gospel, a rather anxious-looking Jesus produced “great drops of blood” that fell to the ground.

6. Hirschsprung’s Disease

Photo credit: Live Science

In 2017, surgeons in China removed around 76 centimeters (30 in) of a patient’s colon. Prior to surgery, 22-year-old Zhou Hai’s abdomen had ballooned to such an extent that he looked heavily pregnant. Contained within the resected bowel was an astonishing 13 kilograms (29 lb) of feces.

Doctors soon discovered the source of the problem: a rare congenital disorder called Hirschsprung’s disease.

The patient had struggled with constipation since he was born, with laxatives doing little to alleviate the symptoms. It turned out that this constipation stemmed from an absence of nerves along parts of his large intestine.

Typically, the entire stretch of bowel receives signals from a large network of nerves. Nervous impulses trigger the rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the bowel’s muscle, thereby pushing the feces toward the rectum. In patients with Hirschsprung’s disease, the absence of some of these nerves disrupts this movement, causing feces to accumulate and form a blockage.

Zhou Hai’s blockage had been left for so long that the resultant backlog of feces was stopping him from breathing properly. He also complained of severe abdominal pain - which was understandable considering the weight he was lugging around.

Surgeons at the Tenth People’s Hospital in Shanghai removed the affected portion of Hai’s bowel. As part of the three-hour-long procedure, the healthy part of Hai’s bowel was reattached to his anus.

5. Gluten Psychosis

Photo credit: Live Science

Most people have heard of celiac disease. It occurs when a person’s immune system is primed to a specific structure found in wheat. This ultimately causes the cells of the immune system to target the small intestine. If left untreated, the tissues of the gut become damaged, impairing the ability of the intestine to absorb vital nutrients.

The most common symptoms of celiac disease include gas, abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhea, and constipation. However, in very rare instances, the condition has been known to play tricks on the mind.

In 2016, doctors were baffled when a 37-year-old student presented with a series of unusual symptoms. The woman thought that her friends and family were conspiring against her as part of an elaborate “game.” Then she mistakenly accused her mother and father of burglarizing her apartment. After issuing a series of threats to her loved ones, the woman was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

The patient’s iron levels had plummeted, and she was deficient in a number of vitamins. She also underwent extreme weight loss, despite having an increased appetite. The doctors initially diagnosed her with paranoid schizophrenia.

She was eventually discharged with antipsychotic medications along with multivitamins and minerals. But the treatment was unsuccessful. The woman’s psychosis persisted, and she continued to lose weight.

The doctors eventually discovered the reason for the patient’s psychotic breakdown: celiac disease. While most cases of celiac disease manifest in symptoms of the digestive tract, around a fifth of patients experience neurological and psychiatric problems.

The destructive immune cells are usually isolated within the gut. But if they migrate to the central nervous system, patients can experience a range of psychiatric issues, including memory loss, hallucinations, and seizures.

The woman refused to adhere to a wheat-free diet, thinking the doctors were working against her best interests. Her condition rapidly deteriorated. She lost her job, became homeless, and tried to commit suicide. She was eventually rehospitalized and placed on a wheat-free diet.

After mere months of treatment, the woman’s psychosis disappeared and her life started to return to normal. Unfortunately, in a moment of extreme carelessness, she accidentally started consuming wheat again. She suffered yet another psychotic episode and was put in jail for trying to murder her parents.

4. Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder


A&E nurse Kim Ramsey used to have up to 100 orgasms a day. This continuous state of arousal started in 2001 after the 46-year-old fell down a flight of stairs. Since that day, Ramsey has struggled with a condition known as persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD).

PGAD is an unwanted, uncontrollable feeling of genital arousal that can last for hours or days. The condition mostly affects women, but a few cases have been documented in men. While PGAD remains poorly understood, researchers think the disease is rooted in psychological, neurological, and vascular problems.

Many PGAD sufferers feel like they are constantly on the verge of orgasm, with symptoms often manifesting in public places. Arousal is sometimes accompanied by pelvic pain and discomfort. For Kim, avoiding certain triggers helps to lessen her symptoms. She also tries to keep herself distracted with work.

A South Carolina resident, Heather Dearmon, started experiencing similar symptoms during her pregnancy. The 34-year-old hoped the problem would go away after giving birth to her son. But the problem persisted for years, and her symptoms became more frequent.

Dearmon would masturbate to three consecutive orgasms to alleviate her symptoms. “To achieve three consecutive orgasms takes a long time. I felt my whole life being robbed,” she explained. Even trips in the car would trigger her arousal.

Due to the embarrassing nature of PGAD, many women report feeling suicidal and depressed. In 2012, Gretchen Molannen committed suicide after living with PGAD for 16 years. Before her death, Molannen described one of her worst experiences: “I had not had medical treatment yet or any kind of medication. I had 50 orgasms in a row. In a row. Nonstop. I thought I was gonna die.”

There is no known cure for PGAD. However, the condition is often treated using medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, and pelvic floor therapy.

3. The Blue People Of Kentucky

Photo credit: plos.org

During the 1960s, a hematologist and a nurse embarked upon a rather bizarre adventure. They tasked themselves with finding the elusive “Blue People of Kentucky.” Ruth Pendergrass had first seen one of the blue people while she was working as a nurse at a clinic in Hazard, Kentucky.

“Her face and her fingernails were almost indigo blue. It like to scared me to death! [sic] She looked like she was having a heart attack,” Pendergrass said.

Intrigued, Pendergrass decided to team up with hematologist Madison Cawein to work out what was going on. The pair scoured Troublesome Creek and Ball Creek where the blue people were known to live. But Pendergrass and Cawein came up empty.

One day, two blue siblings walked into Cawein’s clinic. “They were bluer’n hell,” he remarked. The doctor set to work figuring out what was wrong. He took blood samples from his new patients, Patrick and Rachel Ritchie. Then Cawein drove out to take blood samples from the pair’s relatives.

Cawein discovered that the blue people’s blood was lacking a key enzyme. The missing enzyme is usually found in red blood cells and is needed for converting blue methemoglobin into red hemoglobin. The Blue People’s condition (hereditary methemoglobinemia) meant that their red blood cells were oxygen poor, hence their bluish skin color.

Cawein’s research turned up a simple treatment: methylene blue. Within minutes of administering the treatment, the Blue People’s skin turned a normal pink hue. The case was solved.

But why were there so many blue people roaming the creeks of Kentucky?

Well, the condition dates back to 1820 when a blue-skinned Frenchman, Martin Fugate, settled in Troublesome Creek. In an incredible twist of fate, Fugate married a woman who also carried the recessive gene for methemoglobinemia.

A person only gets the disease when they inherit two faulty genes, one from each parent. As a result of their parents’ genetic makeup, four of the seven Fugate children inherited blue skin. Inbreeding between members of the Fugate family caused the condition to spread throughout the region.

2. Parry-Romberg Syndrome


Parry-Romberg syndrome is a rare disorder that causes the skin, muscle, and connective tissue of the face to atrophy. The atrophy mostly affects just one side of the face (hemifacial), resulting in a slightly droopy appearance. Parry-Romberg syndrome usually kicks off in childhood or adolescence and worsens over a period of many years. The traumatizing disease affects just 1 in 250,000 people.

In 2011, a British girl called Maha Asghar was diagnosed with Parry-Romberg syndrome. She was just three years of age when the right side of her face started slowly wasting away.

Changes to the tissue around the youngster’s right eye and ear mean that she will likely encounter problems with vision and hearing. She also suffers with debilitating pain which can last for several hours.

There is currently no treatment available from Britain’s National Health Service, so Asghar’s family hopes to get crowdfunding for surgery abroad. Patients with Parry-Romberg syndrome often travel to the United States where only two vascular surgeons have the skill required to perform the facial reconstruction technique.

In 2011, a North Carolina girl’s face was saved by microvascular surgery. The pioneering surgeon, Dr. John Siebert, took tissue from underneath the girl’s arm and sculpted it into her face.

Very little is known about Parry-Romberg syndrome, but some researchers believe that it could be the result of autoimmunity, nerve problems, infection, or trauma.

1. Forever Young

Photo credit: nypost.com

Mario Bosco is a Hollywood actor in his forties. Despite his advancing years, the Brooklyn man is routinely mistaken for a 14-year-old boy. Bosco’s youthful looks and diminutive stature are caused by a condition known as panhypopituitarism.

Panhypopituitarism occurs when the pituitary gland fails to secrete the correct levels of hormones. The symptoms of the disease are dependent upon which hormones are deficient. As one might expect, decreased levels of growth hormone lead to delays in growth, whereas a decrease in gonadotropins causes stunted sexual development.

Bosco spent much of his youth in and out of the hospital. He had severe medical issues when he was first born, including convulsions, low blood sugar, and thyroid problems. Bosco’s abnormal hormone levels meant that his body did not mature correctly. Today, he stands at just 147 centimeters (4’10”) and has the face and body of a wiry teenager.

Despite these challenges, Bosco went on to find fame as an actor. He has met many Hollywood stars and appeared on numerous television shows, including NYPD Blue and Jimmy Kimmel Live. “I feel like none of this would have happened if I hadn’t have looked and sounded different,” he said.

Top image: The Blue People of Kentucky. Credit: Viral Heart/YouTube.

[Source: Listverse. Top image added.]

VIDEO: WHAT CAUSES FOOD ALLERGIES?


For some people, a simple peanut or a bite of shrimp can cause the body’s immune system to wildly overreact. In some cases, the results can be deadly. But what exactly is happening in the body for it to confuse nuts or shellfish with a true threat? Learn more about what causes food allergies from this video by Seeker.


Top image: Screenshot from the video.

[Source: Seeker/YouTube.]

Monday, 24 June 2019

TOP 10 LATEST TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS


Top 10 Latest Technological Innovations
By Christopher McFadden,
Interesting Engineering, 23 June 2019.

What are the hottest technological innovations at the moment? As it turns out some will be pretty obvious, while others might surprise you.

In the following article, we've collated some of the most interesting and potentially revolutionary tech-innovations currently either being researched or developed.

What are the newest technologies coming our way?

Here are some of the newest up and coming technologies for 2019 and beyond. This list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) coming of age is, um, coming

Credit: geralt/Pixabay

AI has been on the receiving end of massive financial investment over the last few years. According to Forbes, 80% of enterprises are now investing in it or are planning to expand AI investment if they already are.

This influx of money has given rise to some serious innovation in deep learning. With all this cash flowing around, many tech experts believe AI will really "come of age" within the next few years.

2. Internet at the speed of lightning

Credit: Christoph Scholz/Flickr

The appetite for faster and faster internet connection is really pushing the technology forward. Businesses and private users are constantly demanding ever quicker response times and the industry is responding.

With lightning-fast internet speeds just around the corner, it should be transformative for many aspects of our lives. Should it be achieved, it will increase the efficiency of workers and will provide reliable communication tools for companies that rely on remote workers.

This is where 5G might be able to change the world as much as our "regular" internet did several decades ago. That's if it doesn't kill us all first, of course.

3. Life-enriching smart tech will change the home


More and more of our lives are becoming integrated with smart tech. Our homes being no exception.

Demand for ever better smart home appliances and home entertainment systems are changing the way we socialize. Whether for better or worse, today is just the tip of the iceberg.

Current trends seem to indicate a greater demand for more control over the way we are entertained in the home from tech. One area that may be something to watch is something called flexible viewing surfaces.

These promise to be able to curve around any environment will change home entertainment and advertising beyond all recognition. Watch this space.

4. Dextrous robots might be with us very soon


Computers and robots are dumb. Very dumb indeed.

If their work environment changes even slightly outside their preprogrammed procedure and the whole production line could come to a grinding halt. This is where improving robotic dexterity offers an incredible opportunity for more flexible automation.

While it may be possible to program robots to figure out how to grasp something by "looking" at it in the future, current research is trying to make them learn how to do so through a trial and error process.

One example is a project called Dactyl, that has taught itself to flip a toy using its "fingers"

5. Brain-computer interface is almost here


Innovations like Elon Musk's Neuralink could make the mouse and keyboard obsolete in the future. Work in this area is continuing apace and promises to allow us to control computers just by thinking.

We'll let you decide if this will be revolutionary or not to you working and daily life.

6. Swallowable medical devices are on the way


Small, swallowable devices are currently being developed that can capture images of your guts without the need for anesthetic. They can even be used in infants and children.

Once fully developed these little medical devices will revolutionize how medical professionals diagnose and monitor some very serious diseases. This will be an incredibly powerful tool for things like cancer and intestinal disorders like environmental enteric dysfunction.

7. Custom cancer vaccines could be a reality soon

Credit: John Keith/Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to scientific developments like the Human Genome Project, personalized medicines and vaccines could be just around the corner. One interesting application for this is the possibility of developing personalized cancer vaccines.

This might sound a little far-fetched, but it is hoped that medical professionals could soon train your immune system to identify and destroy cancer cells. This, if achieved, could make cancer a thing of the past.

8. Fancy a cow-free burger?


Meat is a vital part of a healthy diet, so we are told, but it comes with a small problem - an animal needs to die. Developments are in motion to provide the world with animal-free meat.

Whether lab-grown, 3D printed or plant-based, alternatives that provide the same nutritional value as proper meat could soon be a reality. It will also offer a means for mankind to reduce dramatically our collective appetite for meat's impact on the planet.

9. An end to sewers is on the way (hopefully)


Developments are afoot to push forward with "eco-friendly" toilets that do not need a connection to a sewer system and can treat waste on the spot. Not only will this be revolutionary for cities of the future, but it will bring much-needed sanitation to many parts of the world that currently lack this "luxury."

Philanthropists Bill Gates has been running a competition called "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge" to find suitable, viable prototypes for this. Many submissions are actually quite promising and once self-contained, self waste metabolizing systems will benefit mankind and the environment for the better.

10. GANs - Generative Adversarial Networks are on the way


GANs, or Generative Adversarial Networks is one of the latest developments in neural networks could be the future. Invented by Ian Goodfellow, this class of machine learning basically sets two neural networks against each other to solve a problem.

Given a set starting condition, the two networks battle it out in a usually non-zero sum game to find a solution to something. These have been described by some as "the coolest idea in machine learning in the last twenty years"

Applications for this technology include generating artificial images, modeling things, improving computer games and many more.

What other examples of technological innovations are there?

Apart from the ten highlighted above, there are some other interesting technological innovations out there. These include, but are not limited to things like (credit to MIT):

- 3-D metal printing
- Artificial embryos
- Sensing cities (smart cities)
- AI for everyone
- Instant foreign language translation
- Zero-carbon natural gas
- Genetic fortune-telling

What are the latest technologies in computer science?


According to sites like topuniversities.com, some of the latest technology areas of research include, but are not limited to:

- Big data analytics
- Machine learning
- Cloud computing
- Computer-assisted education
- Bioinformatics
- Better cybersecurity

[Source: Interesting Engineering. Some images added.]

Saturday, 22 June 2019

10 REASONS WHY IT’S TIME TO DESTROY THE INTERNET


Is it Time to Destroy the Internet?
By Gregory Myers,
Toptenz, 16 June 2019.

Today we live in the age of instant information and instant gratification, and many people feel they cannot live without the internet. However, for the longest time humanity did just fine without it in their lives, and we could do so again. In fact, the truth is that at this point, the internet is probably doing more harm than good to humanity, and it would be better if it just went away for a while. While that may sound radical to some, we have our reasons for saying so, which we will explain in today’s article.

10. The Internet Can Connect People, But It Can Also Isolate You To The World Close To You


Many people like to talk about how it is such a great positive that the internet connects people from all over the world on sites like Facebook. However, when you really stop to think about it, while it seems like it is keeping us all connected, it can also keep us isolated without us even realizing it.

The problem is that when we see the little status updates, and get that dopamine high, especially when we are already busy with real life; it fulfills this part of our mind that believes we need to stay in touch with people and spend time with them. That psychological fulfillment makes us think we are being connected, but unless we are actually at least having conversations and talking to them through messenger, we are more alone than ever, despite being able to see pictures of their children and leave a like or two. We may be more connected, but we are also more isolated than ever.

9. The Internet Has Almost All Knowledge, But It Lacks A Filter To Help You Evaluate It


The internet is often praised because it is a repository of pretty much the sum total of all human knowledge (minus certain things that are secret or classified). However, while this may sound like one of the greatest things ever, it is a double-edged sword and comes at a great cost. We were always able to get to the vast majority of humanity’s non-secret knowledge through libraries or other sources, but it took us longer to do so, and required us to go through more trusted sources first.

Now, through the internet, we can find thousands or even millions of results about the same thing, and there is no guarantee they are going to agree on any given bit of information. In fact, more often than not, they don’t. When researching anything online, you have to be careful about who is and isn’t a legitimate source. This can be tricky because the internet has made us all think we are experts on everything when we really aren’t. Evaluating information when you don’t know a subject well already is extra hard, and if someone wants to build a foundation first to understand the information they found on the internet, they usually try to build that foundation of knowledge…on the internet.

8. Facebook Has Become So Omnipresent It Is Sui Generis In Terms Of Power


Sui generis means “in a class of its own” and that is basically what has happened with the social media site Facebook. It has become so dominant and so powerful that its influence can practically be compared to that of many governments, and there is little in the way of real regulation to control how or why they do business the way they do. Some countries have occasionally turned Facebook off for a bit in times of crisis, but the backlash is usually so fierce that it quickly returns.

This brings up the question about what to do with something like Facebook in the long term. As a single company, without taking any of our money, they have managed an insane amount of influence over our daily lives, and no social network, or social habits, seem currently capable of breaking people of that influence (or addiction, as the case may be with some, due to the constant dopamine high we get from scrolling through). The truth is that something like Facebook is simply unprecedented in known human history, and it could have unknown ramifications decades from now - it is already hard to quantify just how much it is changing the way we interact, and removing the internet entirely may be the only way to stop it.

7. No Bad Idea Cannot Be Found With Detailed Instructions And Advocates For Its Use


The internet is a place where you can find information about pretty much anything - and sometimes you don’t even have to look that hard. Unfortunately, this isn’t limited to just the good stuff. If you want instructions for how to 3D print a gun, or make bombs or other dangerous things, you just need to hop online, and that’s really only the start. If it’s illegal and you can think of it, it’s online.

And the internet just isn’t policed that well, as people are uploading things constantly and creating new web pages all the time, and there is little oversight. The FBI and other international organizations are constantly looking for things like child pornography and some of the worst, most illegal things that are being shown, sold, or given instructions on how to do, but it’s like trying to remove all the water out of the ocean with a bucket. And, to make matters worse, a lot of legal gray areas make the information hard to take down as long as the person says they aren’t actually using it, and that it’s just for educational purposes.

6. The Internet Has Normalized All Kinds Of Bizarre Fetishes Into The Mainstream


Now, don’t get us wrong, we aren’t saying we are prudishly against pornography or that there is anything wrong with something that consenting people do in their own bedrooms. However, the proliferation of pornography on the internet, as satirized by South Park, has often made it harder and harder for a lot of people to get off simply by watching, reading, or thinking about normal, vanilla sex. It’s practically boring now to some people (you can find dozens of articles online about whether or not you should “shame” people for liking vanilla sex), and almost every piece of sexual media now has some kind of strange fetish, or some special element to it to make it more interesting.

In a way this is not surprising, as the internet has led to a renaissance in terms of high quality entertainment, but it has also led to a situation where many young people start getting into sex and expect things that may not necessarily be reality. And also, while it may be easy enough to find people into the stranger fetishes online, it may be a lot harder to find a partner who is also into it, and the internet is full of people talking about how they are struggling either to get their partner to accept their fetish, or deal with their partner’s strangeness. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong to have a harmless but weird fetish, but it has made a lot of young people have unrealistic expectations about sex, and maybe given them an inaccurate view of how easy it is to find a compatible partner that shares a rarer fetish.

5. Child Pornography Has Proliferated Like Never Before


In the age of the internet, child porn has become a huge problem, and it isn’t showing signs of stopping anytime soon. The problem is that the internet is worldwide and people can upload things from any corner of the globe, which makes it hard to actually punish or get to a lot of people even when you do realize who is the one perpetrating the wrongdoing. You may have to refer things to their country’s law enforcement and wait, while children are suffering. And of course, that is if you can track them to begin with, as evil child pornographers are constantly using new tools in an attempt to stay anonymous with the authorities.

And for webmasters, you cannot just ban people in most cases from posting pictures at all (you would have no one left using your websites), so instead, with a combination of automated programs, and often traumatized humans, we as a species play a grim game of child porn whack-a-mole. But as long as the internet exists, especially as the mostly unregulated international entity that it is, it is unlikely we will ever be able to eradicate it from the worldwide web entirely.

4. Bullying Has Now Been Taken To An Entirely New Level In The Modern Age


Back in the day, if you wanted to bully someone you had to at least have the courage to face them in person, or maybe call their house, which required a little more nerve than a quick message on Facebook. Now, people feel emboldened to simply be mean, and to constantly attack others all day on social media, even when they know full well if they pulled that in person they would probably get a very real punch in the face. Now, whole gangs of kids can easily harass one person without leaving the comfort of their homes, and drive them to suicide.

And it’s rather hard to properly punish them for it. Unless they are actually demonstrably encouraging someone to commit suicide, that kind of intent can be hard to prove, and punishments are much less harsh for minors anyway, from a legal standpoint. The truth is that as long as the internet exists, at least as such an unregulated entity, it is going to be a hotbed for bullying, whether it is just an individual or an entire group ganging up on other kids, and it is going to be very hard to stop. It gives bullies a feeling of power, and it causes the victims to feel like they never have a place they can go to escape the pain. Some would say just go offline, but with the youth of today, that pretty much involves social isolation, so it isn’t really an effective or long term escape from the bullying.

3. No Matter How Bad What You Believe Is, You Will Find Friends Online


Before the dawn of the internet, if you had really awful ideas, such as racism, it would be really hard to find that many people who agreed with you that vociferously, especially depending on where you live. However, with the help of the internet you can find people who will agree with any bad idea you have. You could believe that young boys should be able to consent to sex like NAMBLA, the very real organization satirized on South Park, or that sex with animals is okay, or whatever bad idea you can imagine. You will find friends on the internet. And it has gotten bad enough that you will find people who not only think it isn’t so bad, but will defend it (and you) to the ends of the earth.

This allows bad ideas that were on the fringe, and dying out, to see a sudden resurgence in popularity, and infect an entirely new generation with some of the same old bad ideas and behaviors we once thought we had eliminated. With the help of such mass communication, it is all too easy to ensure that no bad idea ever truly dies, and sometimes even returns stronger than ever.

2. It Is No Longer A Bastion Of Free Communication, And Its Usefulness Is Ending Quickly


Net neutrality has officially ended in the USA, and despite efforts to curtail the inevitable, the telecoms are winning the battle, and their money is winning the day. However, after all that spending, all they really may end up doing is killing the internet once and for all, and as such foolishly killing their own business off like the greedy idiots they are. The truth is that the free enterprise and fairness and ability of anyone to do anything on the internet was what made it useful, despite the double-edged sword aspects, and with that gone it will slowly become more like a slightly interactive form of cable television.

When the big telecoms start to control more and more corners of the internet, and independent and burgeoning websites begin to die off, people will find it less and less useful, and perhaps spend more time interacting with each other in person for a change, or at least reach out through telephone chatting more, instead of just “liking” or “retweeting” things. The fact of the matter is that when something that was all about free communication becomes…well, not that, it’s hard to expect it to exist much longer, at least in anything close to its current form.

1. It Has Almost Become “Too Big To Fail” and The Consequences Could Be Dire


Now, the argument by some when we talk about moving on from the internet is that it’s almost too integral a part of daily life, and “too big to fail.” However, the argument against this is the same one many made against bailing out certain banks after financial collapses. The idea is that if something is too big too fail, then we need to let it fail anyway and fix the mess regardless of the pain, because something that we can live without, but that is “too big to fail,” is overall a detriment to society that will eventually collapse on its own.

If we control the collapse, we can at least mitigate the damage. However, if we wait until it’s too late, until the internet really starts to fall apart on its own, the damage to our social and other physical infrastructure is going to be much harder to contain, as it will not really be a “controlled dive” off of our dependency on the internet. However, the good news is that we have lived without it before, and we can live without it again. And if we could end our dependence on the internet, we could still be technologically advanced and have quick communication, but go back to a better, more thoughtful society that spent more time on real life, personal, meaningful interaction, and was happier and better for it.

(Then again, until the internet does in fact die, we encourage you to keep coming back to TopTenz and maybe checking out our YouTube channel.)

Top image credit: Generoso Abenante/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Toptenz. Top image added.]