I read Esther Cepeda’s column today in my morning newspaper...“A deliciously revolting takedown of our Internet-obsessed way of life”.
In her column, Cepeda reviews the book I hate the Internet: A Useful Novel Against Man, Money and the Filth of Instagram.
I must read this book. Her review reminds me of a much-panned book I read a few years ago … Killing Time by Caleb Carr. I wrote a blog post quoting passages from the book. Is it real..or is it Spark Notes? expressed my concern about the negative potential of a media where anyone..even me….can be a published author, and where information is being summarized and deep reading is discouraged.
To our students, information all pretty much looks the same. As a matter of fact, garbage posted in a pretty package actually looks better than the most profound literature posted in plain, old-fashioned html. I see so much mis-information being thrown around on FB et al. If that is what you depend on for your news…you will never understand what is real and what is fake. Recently I have blocked all political posts from my FB feed. I have made a conscious decision that I will NOT get my information from a platform that is perfect for having a social conversation, and terrible for finding accurate “just the facts” news, let alone measured, informed opinions.
I confess. I HAVE made an exception for Donald Trump. I search for the most balanced and accurate reports that I can find and post links. Why the exception? Because people did not do enough to stop Hitler and look what happened there!! I feel it is my moral obligation to reveal the danger of Trump. But part of his amazing rise to prominence has to do with the fact that he talks in the outrageous sound bytes that passes for intelligent discourse these days. In the words of Caleb Carr:
The human brain adores it [Information] – it plays with the bits of information it receives, arranging them and storing them like a delighted child. But it loathes examining them deeply, doing the hard work of assembling them into integrated systems of understanding. Yet that work is what produces knowledge… The rest is simply – recreation. (Killing Time, p. 235)
And in the words of Esther Cepeda:
As a result, social media and participatory journalism sites became “a place where complex systems gave the mentally ill the same platforms of expression as sane members of society, with no regard to the damage they caused to themselves or others.” And this had the effect of making Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Gawker, BuzzFeed and so many other sites where people have so-called conversations an environment that “preyed on the gullible, asking them to create content based on inflamed emotion for the sake of serving advertisements.”