On the Internet(s)

I sometimes think I expect too much. I’m reading McSweeney’s 54: The End of Trust, and thinking of my early (early 1990s) ideals around the Internet and personal computing, which were both evolving so rapidly.

Confession: I thought that everyone I knew would be doing AMAZING THINGS with this technology, especially once software and hardware evolved for key activities like music composition, video editing, digital painting, and more. I was certain that everyone I knew had a hidden composer/filmmaker/author/artist in them just WAITING to get out.

But… it’s 2020, and most people I know use this truly amazing content creation/sharing infrastructure to: post photos of their (purchased meals), post photos of themself drunk, make their children self-conscious by “sharenting” (oversharing as parents), repost unreliable information found on unreliable source pages of dubious origin, or watch (and repost) cat videos.

*me staring at the reader with alarmed expression*

Yes, there is some nice citizen science stuff, and the libraries are doing a great job, but I EXPECTED that.

No, really, I didn’t expect [gestures toward the screen] this. I thought tech would revolutionize education and communication and film and science in ways that… HAVE NOT HAPPENED. I did not anticipate “social media” where people talk about themselves endlessly, and misrepresent how they look and live to their “friends.” I was not cynical enough to envision paid “influencers” peddling products. I would not have anticipated the web being used to hype imaginary events like the Fyre Festival. I did not think so many people had an inner scam compulsion and/or marketing ambition and/or cat obsession to resolve.

I… feel like such a wacky optimist.

ANYWAY, the End of Trust is really good, and I can tell because I am using up tape flags over things I want to dwell on further. It’s a great sign. I’ll write about it, of course.