And Such Small Portions, Too!

The most recent Wired has a column by Chris Colin on how the little Facebook “Like” button is destroying the human soul. No, seriously. At one point, he quotes another Wired contributor, Erik Davis:

Our culture is afflicted with knowingness. We exalt in being able to know as much as possible. And that’s great on many levels. But we’re forgetting the pleasures of not knowing. I’m no Luddite, but we’ve started replacing actual experience with someone else’s digested knowledge.

Those last two critiques are mutually incompatible. If the point is to rediscover the pleasures of not knowing, then shouldn’t someone else’s flattened and distorted knowledge be an improvement over actual experience? Unless he’s in favor of brute, pointless experiences, the kind from which one learns absolutely nothing — like reading this column.

I believe the point isn’t to remain in a state of not-knowingness and avoid experiences altogether, but to enter experiences as more of a blank slate — and thus take more from them. Maybe I’m misunderstanding your complaint? I don’t see the incompatibility.

Disclosure: I’m the guy responsible for the brute, pointless experience you had.

Yes, that is clearer, although still a fairly typical Wired front-of-magazine sentiment: contrarian and overstated.

I’ll look for more nuanced, understated words like “brute” and “pointless” from now on.

You’re right; although I have my issues with the piece, that last phrase after the dash was unnecessary. The column is online now, so I encourage everyone to experience it for themselves.