red pill blue pill yada yada

Nov. 13th, 2012 | 07:46 am

People have said salient things about the nature of the net before. While I agree that some of the internet's reflexive position in our society has become posing and answering the question "why wasn't I consulted?" (the thesis of that article), it occurs to me that that's not reaching nearly deep enough to explain it.

I think the net is about many things -- communication, primarily -- but among them one of the strongest themes is fantasy. In particular, collective fantasy. People don't just use it to complain or to chat. "Someone is wrong on the internet" does keep many people awake at night, but it's not just because we feel the need to consult someone: it's that someone is ruining our fantasy of consensus, damaging our carefully-crafted filter bubble.

Look at what else people do on the net: imagine and portray ourselves to friends, play games, watch and produce pornography, assemble imaginary scrapbooks, gamble, play make-believe at finance or sport or a million other things, write stories, re-process our inner life in journals. These are all quite popular destinations, major timesinks.

I don't have a lot to say about this; I'm not in the business of internet punditry and I think most things have a variety of implications, good and bad. Fantasy is distraction but it's also the active construction of alternative possible-worlds. It just seems to me at least as salient a way to view what happens in here as "WWIC" or "filter bubbles". They're just special cases: the fantasies of being listened-to, surrounded by agreeable people, and living in the world as you want it to be, not how it is.

I'll leave you with links to wikipedia's descriptions of escapism and absorption to ponder.

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