Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How the Greedheads and the Internet Destroyed Thought

On this last day of 2008, I mourn the loss of the thinking writer. What is this shit with Twitter (164 characters worth of discussion at one time? Rachel said last night that Israel "tweaked[?]" its current bombing and possibly ground troop campaign against Hamas in the Gaza through Twitter. "Isrl bomb only mil instal; civ dths sad but nec."

Meanwhile, just read in the
New York Times that Nat Hentoff and Lynn Yaeger were laid off. According to Tom Robbins, who is still a staff writer there, half the staff of the VV has been laid off since the New Times Media (a Phoenix-based publisher of alternative weeklies that later changed its name to Village Voice Media) bought it in 2005.

Nat Hentoff has been there for 50 years, since 1958. I disagreed with him on many issues, particularly abortion, but he was always a worthy adversary. He could think in print. He discussed detailed constitutional issues, like the urgency of protecting first amendment rights. How can you discuss this shit in 164 characters without being extremely reductive, if not totally stupid? Is this what everyone is evolving towards (whether they want to or not), public discourse based on Valley Girl text messaging?

I am guilty of the same short-term responses myself. If my homepage hesitates for a milisecond, I get impatient. The thought of pulling down the Encyclopedia Britannica to research something seems anachronistic and a waste of time. Why look it up in a deliberate fashion: selecting the proper book, leafing through the pages, and reading all those goddamned words when all you have to do is type "key" words into a search box to get answers? But what the fuck kind of answers are they?

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