Benjamin Kunkel on The Information Age

In an essay looking at the changing roles technology takes in our lives and how this changes us, Benjamin Kunkel articulates what many journalists have tried and failed to do in recent times: produce an expressive piece about the ‘information age’ without resorting to tired analogies and scaremongering.

Critiques, as opposed to mere descriptions, of internet culture emphasize the informality or (more judgmentally) the vulgarity of our promiscuous messages. These communications, in their ease, inexpensiveness, and abundance, suffer less pressure than before to be or seem important, meaningful, or definitive—in other words, to last in our minds. In their clamorous competition with one another, they more often strive to be the first noticed. […]

My hope is that these reminders will keep me from succumbing any further to a pastime that has already cut deeper into my more serious reading and writing than I’d like, and that has led me to participate in the great ongoing suicide (by freeloading content) of the intellectual class.

Stating that a blogger’s “popularity is no index of their worthiness”, Kunkel points to more truths with these ‘five secrets’ from Lee Siegel’s Against the Machine:

  1. Not everyone has something valuable to say.
  2. Few people have anything original to say.
  3. Only a handful of people know how to write well.
  4. Most people will do almost anything to be liked.
  5. “Customers” are always right, but “people” aren’t.