May 4, 2009

A world of endless idiocy and insult

The Web is like an endless novel populated with characters who reveal way too much about themselves, sometimes purposely, sometimes half-knowingly, sometimes unwittingly. It's a junk shop of human emotion and behavior, a forum for advanced people-watching.

That's from an interesting article about confessional bloggers (a la the confessional poets) in Vanity Fair about the "curious case of Keith Gessen and Emily Gould", two young Brooklyn-based writers, whose lives got intertwined with their e-lives.
As Internet theorist Clay Shirky argues in his 2008 book, Here Comes Everybody, the Web makes it easy for like-minded people to find one another and form groups. But as great as the Net is for building communities, it has also proved itself a deadly instrument of ostracism.
But, like the article says:
Bubbling beneath the ongoing melodrama was a halfway decent theme: is the Internet killing civilized discourse and taking us into a world of endless idiocy and insult?
And so it goes. After all, our e-lives are nothing but reflections of our "real" ones. The idocy and insult only gets reflected and mildly magnified under the relative anonymity and surreal other-worldliness felt online.

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