Community? Bah, Humbug!

When it comes to the personal web, citizen media, social networks, and all the other stuff shoveled under the banner of “Web 2.0” these days, I’m about as strong an evangelist and fan as one can be. After all, I’ve been posting stuff about my life for over a decade. Connecting with people online? Let me tell you young whippersnappers ’bout dial-up BBSes and 2400 baud modems, baby.

Still, I very much enjoyed this rant by Joel Stein in the L.A. Times:

I don’t want to talk to you; I want to talk at you. A column is not my attempt to engage in a conversation with you… I get that you have opinions you want to share. That’s great. You’re the Person of the Year. I just don’t have any interest in them… A lot of e-mail screeds argue that, in return for the privilege of broadcasting my opinion, I have the responsibility to listen to you. I don’t. No more than you have a responsibility to read me. I’m not an elected servant. I’m an arrogant, solipsistic, attention-needy freak who pretends to have an opinion about everything.

That latter definition, of course, describes the TIME Person of the Year to a T.

One could read Stein’s column as a perfect, ironic example of why the MSM (that’s “mainstream media”) just doesn’t get it. I prefer to see it as an inevitable and refreshing backlash against all the “Web 2.0” hype.

After all, there should be a place in this world for the soliloquy, the lone herald, the who-gives-a-damn rant, the one-way communiqué that seeks no response, no debate, no AJAX-ified, real-time interactive geegaws. A venue where the message stands alone, and the recipients do what they will — somewhere else.

As Stein notes, it’s a good thing Martin Luther only had a door, and not a blog. Would the 95 Theses have even made the front page of Digg?

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