“The Internet Doesn’t Care if We’ve Had Enough”by Chad Thomas Johnston on Jun 29, 2011 • 5:57 am 15 Comments
Yesterday Pitchfork posted an interview with singer Antony Hegarty. Even though he was not actually speaking about writers, he said something that most definitely applies to writers as well. I have been thinking about it ever since, and I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter, my dear readers.
Because my Mama reads this, I am going to censor Mr. Antony a bit. I will substitute the word “falafel” for the F word. I hope Antony likes falafels.
“The Internet might be useful for creating revolution, but all it’s creating in the Western world is more passivity, more disconnection. It’s a f(alafeling) nightmare. When I was 20 years old in New York City, do you think you walked into a coffee shop and saw 40 people staring at $2,000 purchases all made from the same company? And those are all the artists! I talk to young musicians now, and they’re just happy to be making records that get released. They don’t even consider that, in the old days, they could making a living by selling records. They don’t even get paid for their work. All that money just goes to Apple and they’re happy to just have people going to their shows. It just took two generations for Apple and similar companies to convince artists they don’t deserve to get paid and that they should just be grateful for the tools that Apple is providing us to make our work, as if we need them to make our art. It’s very, very f(alafeled) up.
I’ve stopped using the Internet, basically. I text, but I’ve whittled that down. I’m trying to just revert to a landline. I don’t want to live in computer time. The Internet doesn’t care if we’ve had enough.”
My Question for You, Dear Readers: As publishing houses ask writers to be “rock stars” more and more, handling their own publicity, creating their own hype, networking constantly through new social media, is there a healthy path for the author to walk? That is, is it reasonable for publishers to expect authors to carry on even when we have had “enough” simply because the digital world we live in never tires?
Antony says many, many things in the above paragraphs that apply to authors: Working without pay, the devaluation of created products, etc. But the thing that caught my attention was the notion that the Internet is not a sentient being. It does not detect human fatigue and, even if it could, it would not be in its nature to care about it. How are we, as sentient, limited beings, to respond to such an unrelenting, insensitive taskmaster? I think workplaces have done a poor job of equipping people, who have very real limitations, to deal with the implications of living in a digital world that has no limitations.
What do you think? I would love to read your replies.
Thanks to superb blogger @shawnsmucker for teaching me that sometimes a really good writing prompt for a blog is a simple question. It is not an act of laziness for a blogger to ask his readers a question when he is genuinely curious.