The Internet has failed us. In fact, it has fooled us, says Andrew Keen, the author of “The Internet Is Not the Answer”. The digital revolution entranced us with tools and toys only to rob us of our humanity. It have “Zucked Up” the human spirit, and the cultural monstrosity that emerged in its place tolerates nothing short of robotic compliance and endless consumption. This new culture despises nothing more than people who think or feel deeply, write or speak sincerely, or distinguish right from wrong with clarity and conviction.
Most people I know will probably dismiss the argument as over-dramatized. To me, however, Keen’s thesis doesn’t seem to go far enough, at least at first glance. True, the Internet is not “the answer”. In fact, it exacerbates many of the problems we had hoped it would ameliorate. But the Internet did not cause these problems. Zuckerberg did not embed into the code of human nature the propensity for self-denial and self-abuse. The tendency to repress aspects of the human spirit is as old as the human spirit (See Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents). The repressive process did not start with Facebook, or with the invention of the personal computer or the rise of complex bureaucracies. The meaning of being human has been changing since the dawn of civilization, through the emergence of self-consciousness, language, alphabets, legal codes and, yes, technologies. Has anything really changed. Listen to this discussion on Bloomberg and decide for yourself.