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Why I hate where we’re heading

September 3, 2009

As much as it might make you feel uncomfortable, I will go ahead and share with you one of my most insistent fantasies. Recently, I have been fantasizing about being on a train platform somewhere, or in a park, or in the street, anywhere that’s public, and spotting someone using an e-reader; then to walk up to them, take the e-reader and smash it as hard as I can into the ground. After turning his whole library into a million little pieces, I want to turn to the e-reader dude, and shout at the top of my lungs: I guess you can’t do that to a book. Can you, bitch?

Yes. Practicality is not my thing. I’m a vinyl man. A smell of the pages and weight of the cover primitive. A-keep-the-number-of-this-friend-if-you-care-enough-about-calling-them freak.

I say fuck practicality. I will carry a book, three books even. It will be a little uncomfortable, but at least my book won’t be a fucking file. Whatever happened to putting a little effort into things you care about? Which takes me to another invention of recent that I detest: Facebook.

The reason I hate facebook is that it blurs the lines a little too much. You’re no longer really in touch, nor out of touch with people. Suddenly you’re in this meaningless proximity with almost anyone you know.

“Thus an average man—one with 120 friends—generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends … What mainly goes up, therefore, is not the core network but the number of casual contacts that people track more passively.” The Economist print edition

This forced proximity does nothing but take out the effort, the sincerity, the meaningfulness of reaching out to somebody and interacting with him or her.

When I add to my list some dude I worked with 3 years ago, and then see on his status bar that he will be in town in a few weeks. Probably neither him nor I will arrange for us to meet up. We will both quietly ignore the fact that as “friends” we probably ought to. So now it is in the open that this person who added me for the sake of increasing his popularity index or whatever narcissist tendency that feeds this whole facebook phenomena, it is in the open that neither of us gives a flying fuck about the other. Which turns the situation from non-contact and indifference to that of hostility, as we both suffered a subtle snub.

I guess what I’m trying to say with this rant is that taking the effort out of the use of intangibles diminishes their value, as their existence becomes more and more abstract which as a result makes them less valuable.

Books, friends, music will sadly become: ‘err whateverz’ its only a file!

Where we’re heading is a reality, and I will have to accept it at some point. Until then though, I will try and smash as many e-readers as I can.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. snugglebus permalink*
    September 3, 2009 11:32 am

    and blogging…?

  2. elmaryachi permalink
    September 4, 2009 12:31 am

    I’m all for blogging, obviously. Blogging creates a space, rather that merely transform something that already existed. It created a new medium that is accessible to a girl in Saudi, an atheist in Tehran, or a political activist in Egypt.

    Another important thing is that blogging is not shoved down our throats. Blogging is completely organic in the sense that you actively find a blog (through your interests, studies etc …), read it, like it, and then start following it. Nobody is shoving it in your throat like a banal facebook status, nor is it merely digitizing an existent medium. It is a new and original application of the internet.

  3. empressmuhammad permalink*
    September 9, 2009 1:33 pm

    So here’s why I disagree:
    – The digital revolution has actually brought people closer, particularly marginalised groups. No matter who you are, you’ll find a community online. I’ll bet you can even find a ‘I hate technology’ community on facebook. It’s beautiful.
    – Face to face interaction still happens, except now its more focused. We know
    – I don’t own a kindle, but I am not averse to the idea. In fact, it fundamentally revolutionises reading as we know it. Printing press probably had its fair share of critics who moaned about how it would make all books uniform and they would lose their individuality, and I can’t help but think if you were alive at the time you would also be part of that group that moaned about the printing press making all books standard and boring. Things change, people adapt. That is beautiful.
    – Back to the kindle, it changes the way we read. It’s a lot more interactive: people debate and discuss paragraphs and it creates a community book club within the very pages of the book. That’s revolutionary! Personally, I read mostly online, and I prefer books to a kindle (which, granted, I’ve never tried), but I know i will move to a kindle very soon.
    – Music: same. It’s cheaper, so more people can access it, it’s a lot more social than it was. The quality has waned– bass is virtually non-existent in computer screens, and so quality still lags…but cover art has changed: youtube has made the music video a community activity (kylie minogue has a competition for who can produce the best video for her new single, with hundreds of fans uploading their own music videos).
    – In fact, people are writing now more than ever, reminiscient of the high times of greek civilisation. Twitter, facebook, email, has forced people to resort to writing to convey emotions. Check this out on the emergence of a new literacy: http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/17-09/st_thompson

  4. February 16, 2010 12:28 pm

    Love the article, the sentiment, and adore the anger … you are absolutely right and I couldn’t agree more.

    I admit though, I have a faKebook account… I surrendered to peer pressure and curiosity…. Hardly ever check it but it’s there and the worst part, is that I get invited, offended, complimented, asked, and blamed for posts, invitations, questions, requests and announcements that I didn’t even check, or even know existed… and here’s the shocker, people DO NOT GET IT …

    So no, forgive me, but I didn’t come to your birthday, cuz I really didn’t see your invitation on my wall, and no I didn’t know you got married cuz last time I checked, which was about six months ago, your relationship status was still “complicated”, and FUCK NO I didn’t go to the business meeting boss, cuz my internet was fucking down….

    Y

    P.s. Can I copy your article and paste it in my status bar?

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