Posts from Memory Lane: Digital Space and the Cornupia of Media

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

These posts were written during the summer while I was in Bangladesh, in preparation for the upcoming academic year. Long story short: when I looked back at the archive, I didn't have the desire or the time to put them up. But now, since I'm coming back to the blog, I decided that some of them aren't half bad. Read on!

I'm a TV minimalist. I don't really watch movies or TV shows except through Netflix when I desire either a marathon (or, as the Wall Street Journal puts it: a "TV binge") or a diversion with friends. Oh, and sometimes I'll be found watching stand-up comedy.

When I think of media, however, I think about blogs and videos and online content of other types. I think of books and articles and photographs and art. I don't know whether that makes me more of a snobby academic type or a youngin' whose more plugged into the Youtube than the newspaper or cable TV. But either way, it means that I definitely spend a lot of time online.

And I'm not sorry.

I've read/heard about all the lamentations that people are reading less because they are online more, that people are less social because they are online more, that they have become less "pure" in their knowledge of the world because they are online more... but all of these arguments never fully explain what the root cause (the internet) actually does to make people all of these things. The internet itself is forming and re-forming itself each and every day, so it would be pretty hard to talk about it as a whole entity and how that entity then affects all of its users in some arbitrarily similar way.

I won't make a very scientific argument here because I don't have the tools and measures to know whether the amorphous concept of "the internet" is really corroding our brains as much as they say it is*. I can only say that the merits and faults of the internet cannot be decided upon towards one direction or the other. As with television or print media when they became accessible and on the scene, culture changed for good and for ill, and we can no longer argue in the same ways about whether they ruined society or not because we cannot even picture society without them (however, I make a note here that only the privileged have access to that particular viewpoint, although I contend that simply knowing about the existence of such a thing changes your view).

I just wish that we would stop pathologizing and shaming people who "go on the internet too much." We have an intense guilt complex about using the materials we have at hand "too much," but in some ways that's our external reality. It's too easy a news target and there's no real substance behind the scare tactic - shaming people will most likely not get them offline, and is that really what you want to do when they're reading your article on the internet?

Enjoy whatever media you're accessing. Have your preferences. But don't make others' choices seem like something that is inherently wrong because it is different.

*Though, my short answer to the arguments above is that easier access to information often pushes people to read more about subjects that they're interested in, create communities around it that socialize in unique and fascinating ways, and takes away some of the power of authority figures to control media and therefore changes our "purity" because we have access to otherwise restricted knowledge.