Ben Greenman on hating and not hating social networks.

An interesting and entertaining editorial at Fictionaut’s blog by Ben Greenman, editor at The New Yorker and author of Correspondences and Please Step Back:  Is/are Twitter – Facebook – etc. damaging to society?  Excerpt:

Information wants to be free, and everyone wants to be enslaved to that free information, irrespective of its truth, its value, or its appropriateness. These extroverted introverts are more exposed than ever, but also more protective than ever because that exposure cannot be sanely or safely regulated. The result is a broad ontological shift, a turning inside-out, where the information that should be hidden is shared and the information that should be shared is hidden. My friend Roddy feels perfectly comfortable tweeting or changing his status update to tell me that he is ambivalent about baths, or that he is watching a lizard on his windowpane, but he is reluctant to introduce me to his new girlfriend. More interestingly, he may add his new girlfriend as a friend on Facebook and possibly even change his status cryptically to indicate that he is involved, but he will not bring the real human around. If this is any indication of future trends, and I think it is, these social-networking technologies will prove corrosive to coherent identity and narrative…

As I noted in the comment section, I agree completely, both with his conviction that social networking should be banished from the earth, and yet that hey, this is useful and fun and levels the playing field of celebrity culture, at least a little bit.  Last time I nearly pulled the plug on my various internet pursuits, I logged into one of them to learn that a new novel by a favorite author is coming.  Would I have learned about it if I had pulled the plug?  I don’t know.

I’m hoping his piece sparks some interesting discussion in the comments section.


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