I am not a fan of the new world order, the push toward socializing the Internet and using it as a surrogate for established and credible forms of communication. I don’t think bloggers are journalists, I don’t think Facebook is any kind of substitute for actually talking to a person, and I don’t think playing World of Warcraft with your children counts as quality family time.
That might make me old-fashioned, but I don’t really care if I get that label. I started out on this planet before there were personal computers, cellphones, global positioning systems and permanent total artificial hearts, and I actually feel bad for people who didn’t see it when it was cleaner, simpler and less impersonal.
So I wasn’t joking when I said that I thought less of people who babble endlessly about their preferred social networking medium. In my mind, human interaction is interaction between humans, and the computer as an intermediary layer isn’t the same. I see people every day who are latched to a computer at home, ride a bus to work with their face pressed against an iPod, and then scurry to attach themselves to the nearest computer at work, only to look at the same Facebook page they were looking at 20 minutes earlier.
Honestly, I feel pity when I see that.
“Web 2.0″ and the press to “techno-egalitarianize” also convinces people they are capable of certain roles, when in fact they are mucking things up royally. This goes back to the blogger-journalist delusion, where anyone with a spellchecker and a 56Kbps connection is suddenly H.L. Mencken. I’ve met a lot of really, really bad writers in my time, and a lot of really, really bad journalists too. Sometimes they are one and the same.
It may be a fact that spending five hours a day at a computer terminal induces insomnia and depression. There might be a biological connection, and there might not. But reporting a study as news three full years after publication is not journalism, and not even correct. Then linking to an article that is seven years old, written about a completely different study … well, that just goes beyond sloppy.
Playing reporter with your cellphone camera and a Twitter account only further undermines what little credibility there is left in journalism — and given the frothy tripe disgorged by CNN, Fox News and other American “news” organizations, it’s painfully thin anyway. It’s true: It’s a free world, and if you think you have what it takes to be Margaret Fuller or Seymour Hersh, none of us can stop you.
In the mean time the rest of us, the other six billion people on the planet, will be particularly careful about what we read. On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog, and if there is a chance that a dog has announced the new desktop look for Ubuntu 10.10 by linking to a mockup uploaded to a wiki page by a kid living in his mom’s basement in Manchester, then we should all be skeptical from the start. Caveat emptor.
I’m no Luddite. I remember life before the CD, the VCR and the microwave oven, but I don’t recommend going back to it. Arbitrarily smearing technology over every aspect of humanity does not advance the human experience. And for goodness sake, don’t let your family relationships devolve into playing World of Warcraft together. That’s an artificial heart, by definition.
And yes, the fact that you are reading a blog should be terrifically ironic to you. I might, after all, be a dog.