Today someone was told me that they hated that vapidity of internet culture and argued that this was part of a larger cultural trend that would no longer produce beautiful or complex things. As a general rule I disregard doomsayers because people have thought the world would end for a very long time. I strongly suspect there’s something to be said about human psychology in that. I feel that claiming society, morality, or good literature are doomed is equally wrong. These things are cultural and thus completely relative.
But the attack on internet culture is what caught my attention. I’ve felt that internet culture is new and different. Orson Scott Card once referred to it as a completely new kind of communication: many to many rather than the tradition one to one, one to many (speech making), or many to one (voting). It’s raw and spontaneous and has no official censorship. There’s an enormous amount of banality from silly pictures of cats with poorly spelt captions to the thousands of youtube clips of people singing to their computer. It’s pretty ugly at times, particularly if you go on 4chan/b. It has produced Anonymous and Wikipedia, which is better than many textbooks I’ve had. It enabled the power of Wikileaks and was arguably a significant force in Egypt’s protests.
And it includes blogging. this.
This is my first experience producing something that some many people could read. Members of my parents generation, for example will find the previous paragraph about internet culture kind of interesting. Many of my friends will think its stupid and redundant. Already been said, by thousands of people. Potential or current bosses could see this. I wondered for a while about the penis monument before I decided it was at least an interesting piece of culture. At least one of the government’s intelligences agencies is likely screening it automatically for certain words. If I talked enough about bombs or Communism, some government agent might actually have to read it (to any government agents: hi). My Mongolian host family could find and read this so I can’t say anything I wouldn’t want them to read, or that they wouldn’t want other people to read. Jared Diamond once repeated a highly exaggerated story he heard in Papua New Guinea, including people’s names in a New York Times Article, somehow thinking that it would never come back to New Guinea. It did. I kind of wonder how people can do the really personal blog entries. Actually I don’t, one of the important parts of internet culture is the imagery distance produced by the computer screen. It’s easy to pretend no one’s reading it.
Having said all that, I now feel self-conscious and paranoid. Well I was never going to write poetry anyway. Likely I’ll continue to just post pictures of cool stuff in Mongolia, randomly anthropological commentary, and whatever else occurs to me. I really should edit this stuff better though.