The newly appointed CEO of Mozilla, which gives away the popular web browser Firefox, has stepped down since being outed as an opponent of gay marriage by the dating site OK Cupid. In a new column for Time, I argue that the Internet has empowered faster, better, stronger activism along with faster, better, stronger shopping. That's great as far as it goes, but there's always a catch, isn't there?
Now that we're well past a subsistence economy, we live in a world of largely symbolic exchange, where we don't simply choose something because we're hungry or naked but because we want to make a statement about what sort of person we are, what sort of taste we possess, and what sort of values we share.
But socially conscious web browsing will also be a time-consuming and hugely complicating activity too. One of the great promises of the Internet was that it would allow all of us to sift through vast amounts of information and arrive at the best answer in record time. We all know it hasn't quite worked out that way. We spend more time than ever hunting for new things and then even more energy comparing this option to that option. And now, we have even more to consider every time we fire up our browser.