There was an article posted to Cracked.com yesterday, that I think is important reading. Naturally, I would think that, because it recalls a post I made to this blog in February. The Cracked author, Mark Hill, however, puts me to shame in that his piece, in that site's fashion, makes a very systematic presentation of his points, drawing on extensive research.
But regardless of exactly how the topic is presented, it is good just to see anyone questioning the asinine media narrative about the socially transformative power of new media. It is good to see anyone making an effort to take Twitter, Facebook, and Western egos down a notch or two. It is disheartening when I can go many weeks without seeing anyone take a rational view on subjects like this, and so it is downright inspiring when someone finally does. There is a conflict present here between a logical assessment of surrounding circumstances and self-aggrandizing, delusional optimism about our own effectiveness in global developments. And of course, eschewing reason in favor of the comforting belief that our mundane activities are inspiring populations and toppling governments only serves to retard our motivation to do more, to put activity behind our activism, and to do a bit of self-sacrifice for the good of others. Why bother if your conspicuous consumption of technology is doing the work for you? Well it isn't, as I pointed out in February, and as The New Yorker pointed out before that, and as Mark Hill very astutely pointed out yesterday.
Will more rational people contribute to this discussion in time? I am earnestly hopeful that prominent writers and commentators will work to tear down this foolhardy conviction that our impersonal, overly casual social activities are good enough to start revolutions. Raising questions about that assumption in the minds of the broader population could constitute a crucial breaking point. We need desperately to break in favor of a clearer understanding of what gives real value to human activity. As it is, this absurd, poorly thought out narrative is making us lazy and self-righteous, and that is a truly poisonous combination.