50 Things Killed by the Internet
Matthew Moore marks the 40th anniversary of the Internet with a list of “50 things that are being killed by the internet.” My favorites:
1) The art of polite disagreement
While the inane spats of YouTube commencers may not be representative, the internet has certainly sharpened the tone of debate. The most raucous sections of the blogworld seem incapable of accepting sincerely held differences of opinion; all opponents must have “agendas”.
Because I make a living writing things on the Internet, I’m especially aware of this. There’s no matter sufficiently trivial that it can’t spark a nasty flame war.
2) Fear that you are the only person unmoved by a celebrity’s death
Twitter has become a clearing-house for jokes about dead famous people. Tasteless, but an antidote to the “fans in mourning” mawkishness that otherwise predominates.
Both a good and a bad thing, as Moore suggests. While some respect for the recently departed’s loved ones is nice, the Internet is a welcome alternative to the hagiographies of the weird but famous to which we’re otherwise treated.
3) Listening to an album all the way through
The single is one of the unlikely beneficiaries of the internet — a development which can be looked at in two ways. There’s no longer any need to endure eight tracks of filler for a couple of decent tunes, but will “album albums” like Radiohead’s Amnesiac get the widespread hearing they deserve?
I owned hundreds of cassette tapes and probably still have 300-odd CDs. I rarely listen to them anymore and haven’t bought a new album in perhaps a decade.
17) Watching television together
On-demand television, from the iPlayer in Britain to Hulu in the US, allows relatives and colleagues to watch the same programmes at different times, undermining what had been one of the medium’s most attractive cultural appeals — the shared experience. Appointment-to-view television, if it exists at all, seems confined to sport and live reality shows.
As I’ve noted previously, I tend to watch non-sports and news programming well out of phase, often catching them a year or two after they’ve gotten going and sometimes waiting until the entire run is complete. When I saw the bold headline, though, I thought he was going somewhere else: The fact that having a notebook computer in the living room often means that we’re looking something up and only half paying attention to the television, much less others in the room.
50) Your lunchbreak
Did you leave your desk today? Or snaffle a sandwich while sending a few personal emails and checking the price of a week in Istanbul?
I’m quite guilty of this. Even when I “go out” for lunch, I usually grab something to eat in front of my computer.