Title: "Discordant Discourse"
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I had one of those distinctly bizarre flickr moments today. A few days ago I had left a comment on someone's lovely seascape image, which had a strong dark band of storm cloud across the top that seemed to be pressing down upon the horizon. It was a strong element in the composition, and I left a comment "The lowering sky...", a somewhat pithy and succinct indication that I found that element particularly compelling and a narrative element foretelling the coming of a storm.
I was checking back to see what other comments had been left on various images, and right below mine on this seascape was a comment that did not directly refer to the image, but the author instead took it upon himself to critique the previous 6 or 7 comments that had been left. The comments "excellent, beautiful, phenomenal, lovely" all got a thumbs up with "awesome" clearly being this person's favourite of the comments. A comment "stunning" was deemed to be heartfelt but used the wrong adjective; the person who left the comment "Silence..." was deemed to be slightly confused, and the critic deemed that my comment indicated I was completely confused. Ah, good times.
I was curious about this person who felt they had the right to critique comments left by others, and he turns out to be a professor (I have my doubts) slash educator in the fields of communications and public relations. Who thinks "awesome" is the pinnacle of commentary on a good image (well, it is so communicative!) and who thinks that coming in upon a discussion uninvited to play god with who "gets it" and who "doesn't" is good public relations practice.
Incidents like this are relatively rare, but this one came at a time when I'm given serious thought to curtailing how much time I spend on the internet. I am waiting to get a book from the library entitled "The Shallows" by Nicholas Carr. Carr apparently makes the case that everything we've learned from recent research into neuroplasticity means that while we may think we are shaping the internet, the truth is that the internet is shaping us. When book reading became prevalent, it encouraged us to focus and give careful consideration and deep thought about what we were reading, and these behaviours/talents/abilities were codified into our neural networks. The internet is changing that to shallow breadth and emphasis on speed. Whether that's what we want or not. Well...I know that I do not want that, I feel there's some evidence it's happening to me as an individual, I intend to take steps to stem the flood. I will certainly keep up with a couple of things on the internet (such as this blog), but many things are going to be dropped and much time devoted to forming habits and behaviours that re-establish strong focus and deep thinking.