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neo-luddism

I guess it’s maybe time to explain the title of this blog, to the extent that there is something to explain. Internet Conundrum refers to the conundrum I have with the internet, which is: I hate it, but I can’t seem to keep myself away from it.

This goes double for the anonymity/identity duality that the internet affords. Technically, this blog is anonymous; practically, that’s not really the case. If you know anything about the city that I live in, you can guess where I live. My posting name is Kat – that could be my name. It could also be a pseudonym; I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a common one, given its alternative/animal/hip/hot topic kind of name.

This blog is also linked from my facebook page. Hi, friends! You all know me. Many of you know the people I talk about. And that’s not really that weird, because I’m writing this from the standpoint that people who know who I am are one day going to read it. I don’t believe in true anonymity on the internet. I’ve spent enough time on various “anonymous” website, and there’s always a way to find out who you are, where you are, etc. The details that you give out on one website might be corroborated (or enhanced) by your details on another website, since many people reuse their login names for different websites. One of my high school usernames was my AIM name, at the time; two art portfolio names; several messageboard profiles; my blog. Between all the different websites, the information given was enough to figure out exactly who I was, even if you didn’t know me to begin with.

This is a weird thing about the internet.

The latest issue of Adbusters has several amazing articles about the digital world, many of which concur with my own opinions about the matter.

Because I don’t like the internet. I really don’t. It’s not just about anonymity/the lack thereof; it’s about the way that the internet tears apart the traditional structure of communication. Right now, as I write this in our living room, Paul is laying on the couch surfing the internet on his Mac. Meredith was (as of three minutes ago) laying on the couch surfing the internet on her Mac. I am sitting on the easy chair writing this blog entry in OpenOffice and flipping between tabs in Firefox. None of us are speaking, but slack-faced and concentrating we ignore each other’s presence while feeling okay about not being “alone”.

This is a bad thing about the internet.

The issue of Adbusters talks about the hikkikomori, who are probably the most startling example of what the isolation of the internet can do to a person. They are young Japanese who decide that the real world is not up to their standards and who, living at home, recede into their rooms and their electronic devices until they no longer rely on any community except the ones they find on the internet, which frequently – due to the sociopathic tendencies that anonymity often provides – will not back them in a way that analog communities will do.

(See: Tomohiro Kato, the man given as an example in the article about Japan’s virtual youth.)

All of which is to say two things: One, I am taking a break from all internet-related activities save this blog (which I write in OpenOffice anyway), and looking for jobs. I am going to start reading books again – and real books, not just dopey YA fantasy novels.

Two, I am going to start writing my neo-Luddite manifesto, and it’s going to be the Player Piano of our generation. Or it will never leave the steamer trunk where I keep all of my sub-par creative output. (Read: all of my creative output.) Either way, I’m going to be busy. If you need me, call. I’m not going to be on the internet, and I probably won’t answer my email unless it’s super important.

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