Extended Sequence of Quotes from "The Age of Missing Information", published in 1992, with an afterword in 2006
Much came across the cable in my endless day .... the most important message is one that really occured to me somewhat later ... You are the most important thing on earth. You, sitting there on the sofa, clutching the remote, are the heaviest object in the known universe. Around you must everything orbit. This Bud's for you.
[McKibben argues that this form of radical individualism is a new stage in human history, which has benefits as well as detriments. While he is neither a philosopher nor a Marxist, his argument probably would at least echo Marcuse, for people in this class]
We have become, in the TV decades, not just individualistic but hyper-individualistic, a nation of people who sit alone in big cars, who build ever bigger and more isolated houses (even as the size of our families shrinks).
[McKibben discusses the show Survivor, as being emblematic of the direction of American culture]
Here's the premise: You are stranded on a desert island, and the way to win is to force everyone else to leave. And if you can manage that, you'll get a lot of money. In healthier cultures, the response to being stranded is to work together - but "together" is a tough sell for Americans.
[On the internet, how it is like and unlike television]
Most important, it works both ways - you send and receive. Thus it allows one to form communities, the very thing that TV has undermined so effectively.
These communities have their flaws - they can be essentially anonymous, some of the relations fraudulent. More to the point, they don't resemble human communities in that they assemble themselves by shared interested instead of shared geography. You can spend a lifetime on the Web with people Just Like You, which is a kind of solipsism not that far removed from the hyperindividualism I've been describing.
If this new screen can wean us back in the direction of reality (as opposed to "reality") it will have done a useful service.
[Links regarded online education redacted]
Go to google, and search for "fat kid almost struck by lightning"