It’s odd in a way that director Barry Sonnenfeld has so many cryptic and terrifying things to say about the internet, as reported by Reuters:
“The medium is the message, and the medium has invaded our home and taken over our minds. . . . The really scary part is how hypnotic it is. The ‘Net is so pervasive that kids are on it all day.”
As opposed to, say, TV or computer games?
Sonnenfeld fears that children today will grow up with “no concept of the right to privacy and in fact not understand the need for it. Because the Facebook generation is not concerned with what people know about them . . . they will have no problem with additional governmental supervision, spying and intervention. They will be thrilled that the Internet will be able to follow their every move.
“I suspect,” he said, “we are probably looking at the last generation of Americans that exist in a democracy. Totalitarianism is not far in our future, and the next generation will go down that road happily.
Actually, although I appreciate the sentiment, in fact, we are living at a time where we can say anything we want and have an audience to do so. What Mr. Sonnenfeld misses is that there are millions of smart people out there using the net as a way to communicate their very fears of, say, totalitarianism.¬† If he only see the net as “the Facebook generation” then it is his fault for not discovering this vast and magnificent entertaining, educational tool it can be. As someone who has watched the culture evolve online for the past fifteen years I can tell you that the Facebook thing is a passing trend.
What is perhaps most troublesome of all is the unfiltered way we insult and attack one another because we aren’t face to face. In the early days of the net there were trolls every now and then but mostly we followed the rules of “Netiquette.” Now, anyone says whatever they want to say and thus, we are revealing ourselves at our most loathsome. That, in itself, makes web 2.0 seductive and perhaps somewhat damaging. On the other hand, the worm will turn and eventually things will swing back in the other direction.
“My only hope is the Bush administration has screwed things up so profoundly — socially, economically and environmentally — that perhaps they will be angered by how our generation has selfishly destroyed their future and will put down that computer,” he said
I still don’t understand the “put down that computer” thing. The genie is out of the bottle on that one, pal. There’s no stuffing it back in.