4.03.2009

The fail whale of my imagination (Twitter is killing this blog)

Seen on Twitter today...

One gray day this week, I (being less than fully gainfully employed) went for a bike ride. I stuffed my pre-DSLR camera in my jersey pocket, but later discovered that the batteries were really dead, so I don't have any photos from this ride. I didn't take my GPS and I don't own a cell phone, let alone a portable computing device like a Blackberry or an Iphone. So this experience of getting lost and riding through thick mud remains undocumented, known only to myself... did it even ever exist? Perhaps not, a process ironically described at Rough Type:
Reality becomes real only after it has been mediated, encapsulated into an electronic message and shot through a network into a virtual community. The unstreamed life is no life at all.
I think twitter is inane; a vast chattering self-absorbed hive of mutual congratulation mixed in with little bits of somewhat interesting reportage and questions stripped of all context like this sterling example:

So am I supposed to engage with this stranger (who I chose to 'follow' based on location and professional profile) in the context of 140 character messages about his 8 year old Kona mountain bike? I don't know how this person rides, how the 8 year old Kona is configured, the bike's intended purpose, etc. For all I know it could be classic steel hardtail with a rigid fork that is a perfect around town bike, or it could be a 40lb 1st generation dual suspension bike that isn't good for much of anything at all. And, of course, my 'review' of my current very retro ride and much more cycling material is available on this blog... not that anyone cares, traffic has noticeably fallen off with the rise of twitter and the new twitter-like Facebook.

Peggy Noonan had a column recently where she posited that one of the causes of the current global economic crash/recession/depression was the increased use of antidepressants and antianxiety drugs in post 9-11 New York: If one's perception of the world is filtered through Prozac and Xanax, it follows that rational risk assessment might consequently suffer.

But I think another contributing factor to the ongoing catastrophe (another 660,000+ jobs lost last month, the real unemployment rate is probably 15% or thereabouts, and any recovery is a long way off) is the increased popularity of the tools of public self-absorption and radical subjectivity that make up "Web 2.0": We are experiencing what happens when the incessant self-generated buzzing in our ears has an uncomfortable confrontation with hard objective truth (like, don't spend more money than you take in, for example). We have been living happily in our own truth (another quote from Rough Type -- context here), but have finally hit the wall, hard.


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