Monday, April 17, 2017

The Internet is an Improvement on Television

As a social and cultural conservative, I feel that technology often takes away more than it gives. But I do think that the internet is a great improvement on television, and has hopefully mitigated the worst effects of television.

The only good thing that can be said about television, in my view, is that it united a family around one source of entertainment-- until the era of multiple TVs in one household came in, that is.

Aside from that, I think it was a complete disaster. I think it gave hundreds of thousands of people a vision of tawdry glamour that made them turn their backs on traditional and national ways of life, and set the generations against each other with the advent of "youth culture". I think it eroded national culture, local culture, imagination, literary heritage...pretty much everything.

Of course, one cannot help nostalgia. Nostalgia may be the greatest weapon in the armoury of pop culture. We look back at the pop culture of the time we were growing up, or indeed of a previous generation, and we think of it as more innocent and gentle. Well, maybe it was more innocent and gentle, but all that means is that it was a bit higher up on the downwards slope.

The internet has many dangers and disadvantages-- you could write a thousand-page volume full of them, easily. But in many ways, I think it has had an improving effect on society.

The main way it's done this, in my view, is to promote diversity-- real diversity, which is diversity of interest and thought. You can find an internet forum for pretty much everything.

Even though I like reading about TV events which united a whole nation-- like Roots or Steptoe and Son-- those things are only admirable when they are very rare. The day-in, day-out homogenizing effect that TV had on society was, in my view, a terrible thing.

Another thing I like about the internet is that audience size isn't such a big deal. A website doesn't have to attract tens of thousands of visitors in order to justify itself, and nobody thinks it does.

Before the internet, the jump between (say) local radio and national radio was enormous-- the first was most definitely small-time and the second was most definitely big-time. There was an absolute difference.

Well, there isn't an absolute difference on the internet. Everything is its own size, its own scale. There are an infinite number of gradients. And I like that.

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