First, the preponderance of lolcats and other trivialities on the Internet does not reveal that something has changed about people; it just reveals the reality of human nature. Seriously, does anyone think most people used to discuss Rawls over breakfast before the Internet? Social grooming, jokes, noting birthdays and other rituals, small talk, well-wishes, personal tidbits, weather, food, children and a little bit of information… Sorry, folks, that’s humanity for you. I find Morozov’s discussion of social media and narcissism to be among the weakest parts of his book—such fears, so commonly expressed, are part moral panic, part exaggeration and part cohort-effect (i.e. people who don’t use the new medium in a manner indigenous to it, don’t get it and proclaim, “kids these days…”)
Second, mundane social interactions form the basis of community-formation, which is the key to subsequent social and political action. Communities have been eroded, not by the Internet, but by television which locks us into passive, isolated cubicles and bombards us with content, most of which is explicitly designed to encourage consumerism, passivity and superficiality; by suburbanization that isolates families from each other, from work, and from the world; and by the increasingly stressful and long work hours which leave very little time for anything else.
In this regard, the Internet is the greatest antidote to anti-communitarian forces. Frankly, I find even the most mindless lolcat sites on the Internet to be an improvement over canned-laughter-filled sitcoms. The point of lolcats is not the lolcats themselves, but to share them with friends, comment on them, make more of them, and enter the community via the joke. It’s the community, not the cat, that matters. (If you doubt this, try selling a book of lolcats and see how well it does.) I write this review in the aftermath of an atrocity; the assassination attempt in Arizona on a Congresswoman that claimed the lives of six others including a child. Every Internet community I am part of is roiled and there is widespread discussion on most of them about the event. Fifteen years ago, we’d all be watching TV, not communicating with each other.”
Delusions Aside, the Net’s Potential Is Real - Zeynep Tufekci
this entire article is really good, and this in particular is a point i LOVE about something that drives me up a WALL. i haaate those obnoxious whines about how “no one cares what you had for breakfast!!!!” because actually, people kind of do. i mean shit, i posted objectively boring-ass reports about how into smoothies i am, and people were like, “fuck yeah smoothies!” and i spend a fair amount of my time with my real-life friends (especially right now as we are feeling our way into adulthood)… talking about what we had for breakfast. or, you know, similarly trivial things, like cats, or how i had no cold water that one time, or how my friend who’s 6’4 had to bathe in a tub he didn’t fit in because his landlady took a week to fix the shower. i don’t make friends with people because of their propensity for marathon conversations about international relations (though i have been witness to WAY TOO MANY OF THOSE in my life); i make friends with people because they make me laugh and they’re basically good people and i enjoy spending time with them and they say interesting things sometimes, and they say the boring things in a way that’s so them i enjoy it anyway.