Lil B "Age of Information"
Lil B finally wrote a love letter to the beast that created him: the Internet. It's also a hate letter, but we at Nation of Thizzlam hope not a Dear John Letter. Ultimately, Lil B concludes that the Internet is ruining us, as a species. "How come the human race isn't progressing as fast as technology has?" laments B, over a trippy dub-steppy track, like he usually employs for his headier songs. It's a great point. If anything, we have become pettier, more judgmental, more disaffected, and lonelier human beings since the creation of the internet. How do I know? I think I read it online somewhere.
This is the other problem, that B points out he always finds himself "asking Google about things that I should learn about". What do we know that we didn't - or couldn't - learn online? Sure, you can read a magazine, but those are probably online too. And once Google succeeds in putting the whole corpus of human literature online through their ambitious book-scanning program, that'll be it; damn near everything will be online. At your fingertips, as they say.
But not in your head, and that's the problem. I wonder if the internet is having some seriously damaging effects on us, cognitively. Sometimes I feel like my brain is starting to imitate the form of cloud computing; no, I don't have that bit of knowledge on me, but I do know how to find it. How many times have you claimed to know something, only to have to Google it? How many days have you spent reading stuff online, and how much of it could you relate to someone in any amount of detail? Do you retain any of this shit? Or are you just a conduit for information, that is mined for marketing data?
But what right do I have to complain? I would have never been able to share my favorite music, and my thoughts about music without the internet. The same is the case for Lil B, the man with 100 Myspace accounts. Would The Pack have had a career without online buzz? Sure. Would Lil B be able to do what he does without the internet? Absolutely not.
But I share Lil B's frustration; I spent all day today trying to write a new story for the magazine I am fortunate enough to write for, and I couldn't get a fucking thing done. Emails, Gchat, Reddit, Reader, Digital Dripped, Facebook, Twitter, this fucking blog, the list goes on; does the internet amount to anything but a neverending list of distractions?* Distractions that exist only to sell you shit, which is the most disenchanting part. Just look at how people have responded to Facebook's policy changes lately.
If this stuff interests you, B, you should check out Jaron Lanier's new book You Are Not a Gadget. I read an excerpt of it, and found it fascinating. From Publisher's Weekly:
"Lanier forcefully argues that Web 2.0 sites such as Wikipedia undervalue humans in favor of anonymity and crowd identity. He brilliantly shows how large Web 2.0–based information aggregators such as Amazon.com—as well as proponents of free music file sharing—have created a hive mind mentality emphasizing quantity over quality. But he concludes with a passionate and hopeful argument for a new digital humanism in which radical technologies do not deny the specialness of personhood."
It's almost exactly what The Based God was talking about. I've gotta go pick it up, but I'm off to the couch with a pen and a pad, because that's the only way I get any writing done anymore.