Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Commentary on Commentaries

At any given time there are a smattering of article in the dead tree press, blogs, websites, and magazine outlets worthy of perusal by anyone with a healthy interest in what is said about what goes on in the world.

Collected here are a few items that I feel are worthy of comment (I'm going to have one post per article, 'cause it's easier that way).

Privacy and social networking are two key components of the zeitgeist of social debate in the first decade of the 21st century. Zoe Williams writes in The Guardian writes of teenagers and online exhibitionism:

"...trying to inculcate discretion at a time when everybody is seeking exposure is like teaching abstinence at a time when all they want to do is have sex. Never mind the rights and wrongs of it, it doesn't work..."

There is no doubt that adolescence is a time when children are emotionally crippled by their own biology until they emerge, as if from a crysalis, into the neurotic grab-bag of talents, proclivities, and questionable ethics that makes up what passes to be a fully-functioning adult and denizen of the 21st century (that's an awful sentence, on two levels, but I will keep it because I enjoyed writing it - damn it!). However. I don't think teenagers are necessarily stupid.

This brings us on to the next key point in Williams' article. Something that has already occurred to most journos and commentators is that all this rubbish that is stuck up on social networking websites will (theoretically) still be there in the year 2020, when yours truly might be thinking of running for election to political office.

What's to be done? Williams suggests:

"...that 15 years hence, people won't need to be protected from their past excesses, because the very fact that this is a universal impulse that social-networking sites merely cater to, will mean that tomorrow's politicians will all have as many skeletons in their closets as one another. In fact, if you don't have a YouTube video from when you were 16, dancing to Britney Spears's Toxic, then it'll be as much an impediment to your public approval rating as being single is today."

This point is well made. I will now smatter this blog with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, safe in the knowledge that people will draw from this the conclusion that I am "genuine" and "honest about my mistakes."

However they could also conclude that I am too computer-illiterate to spellcheck my post!

[However if Ray Kurzweil is right, by 2020 the computers will have taken over in an event already being labelled as "the technological singularity" - if I'm capaigning on a pro-singularity ticket my spelling mistakes will be interpreted as an early and tacit recognition of the need to augment my feeble human intellect with a Mighty Processor. On the other hand if I'm going to campaign on an anti-singularity platform my PC-illiteracy will be seen as being evidence of my inherent suspicions of technology.]

The agony of indecision! I feel like the press is saying Gordon Brown must be feeling.

I don't owe the person who I will be anything. I would vote for him, but only after a close examination of the policies he supports on a variety of issues and the relative positions of his opponents.

In conclusion if, by 2020, we're still going on and on about politicians' personalities as if they mattered a gnat's shite then Dog help us, Dog help us all.

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