Since it’s the season for giving, I’d like to satirically write up some conclusions for that op-ed you need to finish. A cool way to crank out that “think-piece” before your deadline is to pick a topic—reading, driving, talking, pet-grooming, bedazzling, whatever—and say social media is making it less real, deep, true, meaningful, authentic, soulful, or whatever else makes you feel like a better type of human than the automaton masses.
First, we’ll need to ignore those articles that present research in a balanced and non-sensationalist way. Instead, start with your conclusion, snag a hyperbolic headline from your editor, and cherry-pick a small subset of research to make the point you think will get the most hits, likes, comments, and high-fives.
Next, try to pass off an irrational and unsubstantiated fetishization of what you deem “real” as instead a simple, nostalgic appreciation for retro, vintage, slow, and disconnected. Seriously, IRL Fetishizing is like cat-nip for much of your reader base. And then people like me will link to it exclaiming how research says otherwise—how we remain disconnected in many ways and that disconnection being fetishized isn’t even disconnection in the first place—but, no worry: that just means more hits, troll-style!
Oh, and make sure your readers know you are wealthy by mentioning your Cape Cod or European vacations, but don’t bother questioning how being able to opt out of certain technologies is, in part, a byproduct of that privilege.
Okay, I’ll start here, and it’d be fun if you all could add some more in the comments.
Do E-Books Mean the End of Knowledge?
When I found myself packing those books at my Cape Cod summer home, running my fingers over the textured covers, I was reminded that ideas have weight. Real, physical, weight. You can literally feel the ideas in the small of your back as you strain to lift the boxes. What will it mean when a new generation can only conceive of ideas as light? When their legs never wrench and quiver under the demanding substance of the book, when thoughts cannot register as pounds on a scale, it is not just our bags that get lighter but maybe, just maybe, our brains, too. Indeed, when life is all ones and zeros it makes every one a zero.
Are Smartphones Really Dumbphones?
I remember making calls on rotary phones, the substance of the rotary on my fingers, the circular motion each number commands from my arm. What is friendship if not that same sort of circularity? A “smart”-phone call today is hardly such a moment but instead just a series of taps, jabs, and “pokes.” The playfulness of the rotary is replaced with something more demanding, even violent. No wonder talking to each other hardly seems worth it anymore.
Why Digital Photos Will Kill Us All
Before (anti)social media and those digital cameras found in the hands of all those people who have no business calling themselves photographers, finding an image of my yacht was something of a voyage itself. When photographs were paper they had a soul, a life, and a death; the paper degraded, the colors faded, the edges bent in reminder that life itself isn’t meant to last in digital perfection, but die scattered and unused in a damp basement. As I look out at the sea, I think we aren’t surfing the web, but drowning in it.
Are MP3s Is Spotify the End of Music?
As quickly as they came they left; mp3 files might not be as easy as streaming music, but I’ll miss the feeling in my hand as I dragged files from one digital folder to the next. The smell of the hard-drive whir. The slowness of waiting for the files to copy imbued a sense of patience into music. Watching the “time left” countdown gave me occasion to contemplate; to think about how that digital-compressed mp3 sound was always more warm than the too-flawless Spotify stream. It is too bad kids today will never get to experience handling that “coverart.jpg” file. They’ll never lovingly organize and reorganize their ‘Music’ folder, forever a lost art. You can listen to a song on Spotify, but you’ll never truly hear it.
See how easy this is? Now it’s your turn! What other topics can we give a lazy, digital dualist, IRL Fetish conclusion for? Cooking? Directions? Memory? Protest? Dying? Be sure to work in Twitter-bait like, “Web 2.0 has ensnared us in a web too pointless, oh”…okay, someone else finish that one.