This nostalgic yearning is Sehnsucht, the rich German concept C.S. Lewis described as the “inconsolable longing for we know not what.” It is “our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off.”
This is a deeply dark time, in which the structures we have built to sustain ourselves are being used against us — all of us — in systematic and automated ways. It is hard to keep faith with the network when it produces horrors such as these. While it is tempting to dismiss the wilder examples as trolling, of which a significant number certainly are, that fails to account for the sheer volume of content weighted in a particularly grotesque direction. It presents many and complexly entangled dangers, including that, just as with the increasing focus on alleged Russian interference in social media, such events will be used as justification for increased control over the internet, increasing censorship, and so on. This is not what many of us want.