Friday, February 6, 2009

The internet is dying

Here's the other thing about Facebook. Or the other two things. Or something.

The internet used to be where I went to talk to people I wouldn't have met otherwise. And, like the famous New Yorker cartoon put it, where no one knew that you were a dog.

People didn't used to post under their real names. Sure, this meant that some people felt freer to be assholes. But it also meant that you could talk about adult issues and politics and be snarky and funny and not worry about what your mom or your boss thought.It's a good thing for people to be able to discuss things that they're not sure their mom or their boss would approve of, you know? What's more, it's a good thing to be able to discuss them with people who don't already agree with you, who don't live in the same place and know the same people and are likely to have exactly the same world view.

But on Facebook, you not only have to use your real name, you can't talk to people you don't know, and you can't even read people's stuff unless they've approved you as a friend. There's no browsing around and experiencing ideas and thoughts you'd never be exposed to otherwise.

Now, to some extent this is no great loss because most of what people post on Facebook is trivia. But it's the principle of the thing. I'm afraid something important is being lost, if this comes to be most people's idea of the online experience.

Maybe I am panicking for no reason. I guess there are a zillion public blogs and messageboards out there, so plenty of people still want strangers to read their stuff and maybe interact with someone new. Maybe this is an addition for those kinds of things and not a replacement. But it worries me.

No comments: