Seriously, did someone set my time machine back to 1998? Not only do we have frightening legislative overreactions to the booga-booga threat of online child porn, but a rash of curmudgeonly complaints about cyber-life straight outta early Brill's Content.
James O'Shea, CNN.com:
Contemporary media ethics have been sliding downhill ever since the Internet gave voice to the likes of Matt Drudge, the blogger who reportedly got his start rooting through trash cans at CBS Studios in Hollywood looking for gossip in the 1990s.
Note that this comes in a column about the utterly unrelated News of the World scandal (though it's also cribbed almost word for word from O'Shea's book The Deal from Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers, which I reviewed for the Wall Street Journal).
[E]mpowerment was supposed to come through the removal of intermediaries. Mainstream media outlets were to be replaced by bulletin boards, e-zines and later by forums and blogs. Elected representatives were to be replaced by "electronic townhalls" and direct online voting. […]
Overall, this vision of a world without intermediaries satisfied the communitarian former hippies and the libertarian anti-system cyber-pundits. They both wanted the internet to "flatten" the world, by which they meant level things out—make things fairer. […] That former hippies found themselves dining with venture capitalists only seemed to confirm the great bridging potential of the internet. The ex-hippies genuinely believed that all their utopian blueprints could be executed with the help of private capital. […]
While we are being empowered as consumers, we are simultaneously being disempowered as citizens, something that the cyber-libertarian digital prophets didn't foresee. "Electronic town halls" never took off either. When Barack Obama tried to hold one shortly after being elected president, the most popular question posed to him concerned the legalisation of marijuana. The internet does not and cannot replace politics—it augments and amplifies it. The Tea Party in the US does not limit its activism to social media, but uses it as part of a broader political campaign. Politics is still primary and technology secondary.
The whole article is, if anything, even more stupid than the above passage (my favorite line: "Why the venture capitalists found the internet so appealing is a mystery"). What a bizarre worldview, where individuals asking the president of the United States about a technically insane and inhumane policy of marijuana prohibition (a question most credentialed journalists are too embarrassed to bring up) is proof that, um, individuals are being disempowered?
[M]y mild, moderate, think-it-through-and-get-it-right style doesn't mesh well with blogosphere culture, which seems more to resemble, say, Roman gladiatorial entertainment, only without the subtlety. Plus…I'm not getting paid. That's good for you, but it's not so good for me. Or for reporting. Or for journalism. And don't even get me started on commenters.
Am I whining? Sure. But I submit that the whining of traditional journalists (you know, the kind of people who punched their tickets on newspaper police beats where they learned quaint notions of fairness and accuracy and keeping one's opinions out of it and all that) is nothing compared to the self-congratulatory smugness of internet culture, which tells us at least five times before breakfast that it is the Great New Thing.
It isn't. For people who want to read and think, which is still a lot of people, the worldwide web is an incorrigibly hostile environment. […]
If some strange magnetic pulse wiped out every blog post written since the format began, hardly anything memorable or important would be lost
Sniff sniff, Rauchy!
But for sheer psychosexual WTFery, today's Grumpy Gus 3.0 Award goes to Stephen Tippins, for his cover story in The American Conserative:
Kenny reaches into his front jeans pocket and retrieves his smart phone. Within minutes he has accessed his Facebook account and the table is passing his phone around from one person to another, like kindergartners at show and tell, each taking turns looking at the Facebook page of one Henrik Bjornson, which lives up to all its shallow hype. […]
I'm living in a Gene Rodenberry teleplay. Minus the space exploration. […]
Most Rodenberry-esque, though, are these women. Oohing and aahing over Henrik, they are about as alien as the Borg and about as soulless
. Of course, they are blissfully ignorant of this fact, but that is beside the point—or maybe it reinforces the point…. The feminist movement was consummated at least two generations ago, but the aggression continues. Eventually, the post-feminist woman, believing that she epitomizes equality and choice, will assimilate all men into her collective, until we all resemble either the metrosexual Henrik or the spineless runts that these women dominate at home.
The modern man is a perfectly emasculated descendant of his ancestors. In fairness, men are to blame for the defeat—men like Henrik, for example, who think "poking" is some kind of foreplay. Maybe we really are the weaker species; maybe we deserve to be eradicated.
Looks like we've finally found some people to take the million-dollar pledge….