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February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms" 
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
James Berardinelli wrote:
At any rate, my real issue is with the insular and intolerant culture that has grown up around the age of information. In general, people are far more polarized in their views than at any time I can remember. It used to be that someone could espouse a position and those in the "other camp," would listen and then voice a contradictory opinion. Now, people only want to listen to voices singing the same chorus.


But isn't assuming the internet has caused this akin to assuming ice cream consumption leads to murder, since they both rise in the summer months? The internet didn't dominate our lived in 1994, and I really don't remember 1994 being an age in which we all joined hands and sung Kumbaya. I don't mean to trivialize your point--you're older than me and have far more experience with the internet--but I think the problem is that the internet gives stupid, obstinate people a forum and makes them more visible rather than actually creating more intolerance.

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Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:23 am
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
JamesKunz wrote:
James Berardinelli wrote:
At any rate, my real issue is with the insular and intolerant culture that has grown up around the age of information. In general, people are far more polarized in their views than at any time I can remember. It used to be that someone could espouse a position and those in the "other camp," would listen and then voice a contradictory opinion. Now, people only want to listen to voices singing the same chorus.


But isn't assuming the internet has caused this akin to assuming ice cream consumption leads to murder, since they both rise in the summer months? The internet didn't dominate our lived in 1994, and I really don't remember 1994 being an age in which we all joined hands and sung Kumbaya. I don't mean to trivialize your point--you're older than me and have far more experience with the internet--but I think the problem is that the internet gives stupid, obstinate people a forum and makes them more visible rather than actually creating more intolerance.


I don't think the Internet caused this. It's part of an overall cultural shift. It certainly enables it in many instances.


Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:39 am
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Another fine essay, Mr. B. I'm just a few years younger than you, so I'm right there when you describe your high-school home life. Though unlike yourself, I participated in online life earlier, through BBSes. I really liked them, especially because they were local; I even went to a couple of gatherings to meet and talk to the people behind the message boards.

It certainly seems like we're losing the ability to concentrate for long periods of time, which is no doubt related to technology. With hyperlinks and the Twitter mindset, brevity is fast becoming the de facto thought currency. I'm not sure if this spells doom for our culture; it just means we're changing, as we always have been.


Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:44 am
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Patrick wrote:
oafolay wrote:
I am in total agreement with James. I can remember 15 years ago (damn, has it really been that long!?) when I was in middle school thinking that the advancement of technology would be the coolest thing ever. Being the sci-fi obsessed kid that I was, I always imagined the world being completely automated and run by robots and I awaited that the day that it would finally happen with baited breath. Well, those days have essentially arrived (albeit not in the way I was expecting) and now I have come to realize how stifling modern technology has become to us. I could give examples but I feel like I'd just be rehashing what James wrote so eloquently in this article.


It could be worse, there could be real robots who'll overthrow us human overlords.


I actually think that this, or perhaps a zombie apocalypse, could do humanity some good. Giving us a new reason to come together and fight for our survival might actually help counter my generation's lack of passion... and simultaneously let me live out a badass fantasy I've always had.

I completely agree with JB. I have been contemplating why I'm not a fan of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and the like for awhile now and could never put my finger on why they bother me so much. But as he eloquently put it, the majority of online interaction lacks substance. I'm a 20-year-old college student. Everyone in my community, myself included, stays connected to Facebook 24 hours a day, either by laptop, ipohone, or email. We're all worried that if we log off, even for a second, that we'll miss something. That we'll be left behind. The ironic thing is that no one is going anywhere. The most anyone will miss is worthless small talk or the latest pics from a friend we haven't spoken too since high school. And we wonder why we're bored.


Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:03 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Ragnarok73 wrote:
I have a theory: culture is becoming more and more "specialized". One need only look at music to see this: there are far more genres and sub-genres of music today than there were 30 years ago. Television and film seem to be headed that way as well. In such a culture, it's quite possible that one's interests and possibly even identity are compartmentalized to the point where anything outside the box isn't really considered to be an alternative.
I would agree with this theory, and maybe be so bold as to build upon it.

Technology, in simplest terms, is the ability for people to control things in their world. Democracy, in simplest terms, means how many people have access to that control. Technology and democracy are two trends that have always followed one another. And it's democracy that's driving what's happening now.

I would suggest that today's consumer has more power than ever before to select his own cultural experiences--hence Ragnarok's theory. And it's no longer only an issue of what the consumer demands, but also the ability for people to serve dually as consumers and producers. Today, it's possible to create a finished motion picture with just a few friends, plus camera and editing equipment that you can get off the shelf at Best Buy. Beyond the basic cost of relatively cheap equipment, there is no budget involved. You can shoot the footage, then you can do all the editing, scoring, and basic effects on your computer. To top it off, you can distribute it yourself online, bypassing the entertainment industry entirely.

And it doesn't have to be movies, either. To revisit Ragnarok's example of the explosion in popular music genres, bands today no longer have to be beholden to recording labels or professional recording studios. In the absence of recording contracts, the old paradigm of touring to support the album release is being turned on its head. Groups today will often only release albums to create awareness of their tours, which are further promoted by online live music trading. If bands don't have to deal with professional distribution, then they don't have to deal with the required formulas--hence, the growth of new genres.

For the previous generation, none of this was conceivable. We're at a time of unprecedented creative freedom for anybody and everybody, and--as James pointed out--it's very easy to flounder in such an open sea. When everything is available to you, there is the tendency for nothing to stand out. Freedom means responsibility, and the majority of our society hasn't yet adjusted to the responsibility of deciding for themselves what they want to see in movies, what they want to hear in music... what they want to do with their lives.


Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:15 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
With the increased access to knowledge and social contact (even if it isn't "real"), I believe the key to getting the most out of our society comes from within. Put bluntly, I think discipline is the thing most lacking in society today.

When you have access to anything and anyone at any time, it no longer becomes a question of how or when, but why. Why do you need to exchange witty comments with your buddies on Facebook 24/7? Why do you need to watch kitties on YouTube? Why do you need to air your grievances on a message board? In the past, why was never an important question: if you wanted to do something, it often required a certain amount of effort, and if you weren't willing to exert the effort, you didn't do it. But now, in the information age, so much can be done with so little effort involved. As a result, I believe we as a people need to stop asking what we can do, but instead ask what do we want to do, and why do we want to do it.

I guess I bring all of this up because I believe it's this lack of focus on the why's that bring us to situations like the one with Stevie B's nephew: people, young and old, "bored" because they don't know what to do, because they can do anything. They don't necessarily have to react to the world around them anymore. They can pick a direction and just GO. And that can freak out a lot of people...myself included.


Tue Feb 09, 2010 4:37 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Is it not possible to live life as one always has and use new technology as an enhancement.As I approach 50 the way I conduct my life is pretty much the same as it has always been.My pay as you go cell phone is never on and usually dead ,but its nice to have it -better ,not intrusive. All my news comes from npr and the newspaper,as it always has.My big ass HD tv has never been tuned to a local newscast or to anything else that I don`t want to watch -by the way HD tv, better.The internet is the greatest triva answering machine the world has ever seen and by buying stuff off it you don`t have to go shopping ,better.I have always read books in covers hard and soft ,technology has made it easier and cheaper to get them ,therefor I read more than ever, better.If your blackberry I phone facebook or girlfriend is starting to bug you I`m pretty sure that it is still ok to trash them,you`ll feel better.It`s getting better all the time!


Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:49 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Internet GOOOOD
Internet BAAAD

Internet does not kill brain cells, people kill brain cells - or am I confusing my arguments?
Rob


Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:09 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
This inspired me to deactivate my Facebook account. Well, this, my friend's blog and another friend who left Facebook, all recently. But this is one of three main inspirations.

I feel weightless. I am reminded of George Clooney's shtick in Up in the Air, of having less baggage. So much of online interaction is such a waste of time.


Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:26 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
James, I have the cure for your nephew's boredom: join the forum!

Facebook is a nice thing once you don't get sucked in. I have a cousin who lost internet privileges at her job because she spent all her time on facebook. Me? I find that a few minutes several times a week is enough.

While the Internet has made my life much better, you do feel too jacked into the matrix sometimes. These last couple of months I've spent over 9 hours a day behind the glare of my PC screen and sometimes you just want to go all Office Space and start to work in construction. The feeling goes away as soon as I remember that I'm no good at manual labour, but still. Too much of anything is no good.

Mangrovejumper wrote:
James:

I've been a reader of your reviews for at least 10 years (back when it was bigscreen.com or something like that) but I never knew that this forum existed. Found it by chance.

Your reviews are always insightful and I find myself agreeing with you on the points you make on the movies. Despite the proliferation of me-too reviewers, I tend to put the heaviest weight on what you have to say about a certain movie I planned on watching. I hear friends and colleagues talk about how great a movie is, the first question that pops into my mind is, well what does James Berardinelli say about it? I guess it's similar to customer/author loyalty, you have reader loyalty.

As to the original point, yes we are quickly becoming the people in Wall-e. Funny how a cartoon drives home the point better than what the pundits and our leaders say or do.


Welcome. There are some pretty insightful folks on these forums too. James must rub off on us. Why not stick around?


Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:28 pm
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
I thought critics and many others online spewed a lot of venom at Transformers 2. Critics were competing against each other on who can write the meaner, more vicious review. The attacks on Megan Fox were also uncalled for. Transformers 2 was no better or worse than many of the other big budget sci-fi films that year, like Terminator:Salvation or Wolverine:Origins. I found the robots to be visually beautiful, and I have learned to watch all current action movies from the back row seats of theaters, so I won't be overwhelmed by the editing.


Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:49 pm
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Anyone who wants to read more on this topic should pick up Jaron Lanier's new book, You Are Not A Gadget. The same forces which led to lowest common denominator popular art (TV/movies/music) will eat away at what few sites there are which truly offer something new and exciting and thought/emotion-provoking-and the nature of the 'net may ensure that nothing shocking (and what can be truly shocking today?) will come along and shake people out of their ruts.


Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:22 pm
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
I can't necessarily preach about this, seeing as I spend waaaaaaaay more time on this computer than I really should. But I strongly believe that cyberspace has led to the formation of numerous subcultures. I personally am on Facebook quite a bit. But I use it mainly to stay in touch with people. Of the people on my FB friends list, more than half were people I know from the real world. About 20 were people I met in cyberspace.

On FB I see people get hooked on things like Farmville. I personally have no real interest in those FB games. But I understand why it is easy to get addicted to them.

In a way, Cyberspace is an online high school. Everyone tries to fit into a certain role. Whaddya wanna be: Jock, hall monitor, prom queen, science geek, math nerd, student body president and so on. In HS it can be often hard to find civility. Same with cyberspace.

Quote:
Transformers 2 was no better or worse than many of the other big budget sci-fi films that year


Yeah it was all but indistinguishable from many of the other big budget hunks of junk that 2009 produced. Big budget pieces of nothing one's likely to forget about 5 minutes after watching them.

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Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:24 am
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
I can't stand being online for more than a few hours at a time. I'm not a technophobe, quite the contrary, but I need privacy. I've noticed how generally pointless most of the information shared is anyways. As for civility, that implies that I'm apart of the larger society in the first place. I'd like to think I set my own routine as much as I can.


Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:25 pm
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Will Hatch wrote:
I can't stand being online for more than a few hours at a time. I'm not a technophobe, quite the contrary, but I need privacy. I've noticed how generally pointless most of the information shared is anyways. As for civility, that implies that I'm apart of the larger society in the first place. I'd like to think I set my own routine as much as I can.


You are wise...
Most are not civil from my experience
Most of the information is irrelevant
Set your own routine, tread your own path and be ... happy
100% agree with you!
Rob


Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:12 am
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Robert Holloway wrote:
Will Hatch wrote:
I can't stand being online for more than a few hours at a time. I'm not a technophobe, quite the contrary, but I need privacy. I've noticed how generally pointless most of the information shared is anyways. As for civility, that implies that I'm apart of the larger society in the first place. I'd like to think I set my own routine as much as I can.


You are wise...
Most are not civil from my experience
Most of the information is irrelevant
Set your own routine, tread your own path and be ... happy
100% agree with you!
Rob


One thing I have noticed over the years... Once upon a time, being on-line used to be fun. It was vital and exciting Now, it often seems more like an obligation. I used to love opening my e-mail inbox, to the point where I often kept the mail program open 24/7. Now, I often dread opening it up. My internal pendulum has, I think, swung too far in the other direction.


Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:22 am
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
You poor, poor people

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Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:25 am
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
The internet has been glorious at dividing people further because each side is parroting facts from dubious sources. lolBlogs...
There's no critical thinking anymore. Just a bunch of squawkers spouting off special interest talking points...

I blame parents first and their smelly children second.


Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:44 pm
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Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
Olbermann is awesome.


Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:25 am
Post Re: February 08, 2010: "Boredom, Incivility & Other Symptoms"
nologo wrote:
The internet has been glorious at dividing people further because each side is parroting facts from dubious sources. lolBlogs...
There's no critical thinking anymore. Just a bunch of squawkers spouting off special interest talking points...

I blame parents first and their smelly children second.


So true

Is anything more inane that Twitter

the goal seems to be to get followers and simply pass on junk and make 140 character witticisms

I use it for business but god, it's vacuous

Rob


Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:26 am
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