Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The digital world of multi-platform stupidity

Call me old-fashioned, but I feel the so-called digital communications revolution we’re living through isn’t worth the paper it’s, erm, not printed on.

I think the explosion in web and mobile phone based communications, alongside ever-expanding TV “services”, well, it all causes human relationships to fragment and weaken.

The result is our World of Far Too Much Communication, which is making many people feel jaded.

I think what we’ve lost in the published word (something resembling truth and beauty, achieved through proper, professional fact-checking and editing) is more valuable than what we’ve gained (instant publishing / broadcasting open to virtually all – even the barely literate and the staggeringly stupid).

In terms of images and sound (music, film, TV and spoken word) the digital revolution has most certainly led to a dumbing down and coarsening.

And that’s before I even get started on the evil of internet-based pornography and the vile shoot-‘em-up adventures so beloved of geeks who play on gaming consoles.

We are indeed all caught up in a tangled multi-platform web of superficiality and irrelevance – from the zillions of out-of-date web-pages just hanging there, to moronic TV, to the the zillions of spam emails.

Even genuine emails are so often simply heralds of false imperatives. Just because someone sends you an email, you don’t have to respond to it. Only a tiny proportion of emails are any way important or useful. Anyone who works in an office knows that.

Meanwhile, social network sites such as Facebook are actually designed for the sharing of banal and infantile content, and users daily deliver just that.

I’m sick of being “invited” on Facebook to terrible “cultural” events I would never dream of attending.

For my money, a good paid-for newspaper is better than anything that any website or TV station can offer. The newspaper is fact-checked, elegantly designed, in many cases wittily written, portable, and professionally prepared compared to other media. What’s not to prefer?!

And an old-fashioned printed novel is still, for me, an immensely pleasurable, intelligent, human achievement – much more impressive that all the frantic half-baked toiling and spinning that goes on in cyberspace.

Two novels I have read recently I would heartily recommend as capable of restoring faith in the beauty of the written word in those who are turned off by what gets published in cyberspace.

(Urgh! All those myriad hyperlinks leading you up the arsehole of the information superhighway. All those sad couch potatoes watching reruns of Friends.)

The two novels I would recommend are: ‘Engelby’ by Sebastian Faulkes, and ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ by Muriel Barbary.