So, yes, you should be skeptical of my skepticism. Perhaps those who dismiss critics of the Internet as Luddites or nostalgists will be proved correct, and from our hyperactive, data-stoked minds will spring a golden age of intellectual discovery and universal wisdom. ~Nicholas Carr
I worked for one year in commercial radio. Unlike public radio where gentle silence and "beds" of music eased transitions, the commercial input was staccato, relentless. Headphones on, first song cued up, I sat suspended as the top-of-the-hour news rolled in, lurching from scandal to deep tragedy to the Dow and sports scores. No pause. Detached, cynical delivery.
My naïve email to the network program director (asking why so tabloid-like?) met the response:
"We've got to keep them tuned in, riled up, and waiting for the next hit.
That's how we make our money, pay our advertisers, stay on the air."
Fourteen years later, social media feels like that. On a large scale, the newsfeed scrolls, a vertical ticker tape - a post featuring "reality" personalities appearing right above images from the Syrian uprising. On a personal scale, deeply intimate and transformative events - each deserving its own universe, let alone a post, give way to the everyday: weekend plans - food - fragments of thought. All on the same page.
An indiscriminate scroll has nothing to do with the weight or rapture of human reality.
Sven Birkerts' The Gutenberg Elegies, riveting in the mid '90s, (quaintly?) decries the "flattening of historical perspective" with the coming electronic age - the trivialization of the significant.
I wonder how this flattening will ultimately affect our personal perspective, our ability to feel in proportion to experience.
It already has. Unless...