Thursday, November 28, 2013

What is the message of this medium, do you think?

We're just coming up on 10 years for this 'blog, and about the same amount of time me working for LifeSite. Before that, I did a lot of work for a political lobby that mostly involved looking things up on the internet. I've been a professional Googler for ten years of my working life, nearly half of it.

I got onto Facebook seven years ago and use it a lot. Nearly all my "friends" on FB are professional contacts, people who feed me information to write about for money, so I don't really feel any guilt about the volume of FB time. Of course, I also keep in touch with people I know who aren't work-related and am hugely grateful for it because these are some pretty important people to me whom I would not otherwise have been able to remain close to. I have fewer than 150 "friends" on FB and I turn down nearly all friend requests, esp. the ones from people I don't actually know. (This is something that greatly puzzles me; why would you imagine I want to let you onto my contacts list if you are a total stranger? And what is the point of just collecting random people? My gut reaction to friend requests from strangers is, "Buzz off, weirdo. Don't you have any real friends?")

Anyway, being someone who makes my living, basically, by farting about on the internet I have become acutely aware of the effects to my physical, mental and emotional well-being of a LOT of web-time: attention span, back aches, ability to focus on real actual books, neglect of real-life things like ... oh, you know, dressing, leaving the house... my life getting sucked more and more into the little square Palantir.

I have never read him, and until recently had always kind of sneered at the adoring fan-girls that crowded around Marshall McLuhan. A lot of Canadian undergrads used to like to use his famous expression in their ordinary conversations the way the rest of us normal people like to quote Firefly and Star Wars. But perhaps for the first time, I'm starting to think that from personal experience I know what he means.

People used to say it a lot about TV, and it was fashionable some years ago to deride TV use, especially for kids, on the grounds that the message of its medium was passivity and mindless consumption, immobility and social isolation.

To that I'm tempted to say to those people in the 80s, "you ain't seen nothin yet, baby!"

In the video above, I think it's very interesting that the narrator uses the term "fantasy" in the same way that I do; to describe a pretend world that people create for themselves in their minds when they think The Real is more real than they want to deal with. He uses it several times.

So I guess I'm not the only one to have noticed.


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