aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, January 13, 2007
A new kind of awkward
You really must listen to this story; it’s beautifully done:
One night, NPR reporter David Kestenbaum was listening to music on iTunes. And he was bored with his playlist. Then he noticed something strange - a mysterious folder called “Anna’s Music” had popped up his screen. He’d never seen it before.
And the weird thing is, when he went to listen to the music, it was just like his. Everything he had, she had: Beck, the White Stripes, Beth Orton… It was as if he’d found his musical soulmate.
Who is Anna and how did her songs end up on Kestenbaum’s computer?
When he clicked on one of the songs, her e-mail address appeared. He sent her a note (making sure to emphasize that he was not a stalker). He issued an invitation to dinner. He made sure to mention that he was married. And then, with the aid of his wife, he set out to find Anna.
There was an awkward encounter - and a lesson about how the Internet can bring us closer to strangers but can also keep us apart.
I don’t think that’s the lesson. I think the lesson is that we all have to learn how to accept and negotiate online personas, and recognize that the kind of intimacy David presumes from the single cue he got - Anna’s playlist - is suspect.
We bring a set of assumptions built on social cues to our real encounters, too, but the one to one interactivity of the Internet helps us feel fervently that we truly connect and know the object of our attention in ways that we most definitely do not.
Celebrities have long had to deal with a variation of this - fans presume the celebrity to be the character they know. Now we’re all like celebrities. Everyone with a facebook or MySpace or Flickr or Blogger or even an iTunes playlist and a disabled firewall, all of us, have to come to grips with that same dynamic.
NOTE: This post’s title comes from an exchange in the piece between David and his wife. When David wants to blame the Internet for the awkwardness of his exchange with Anna, his wife asks, “Don’t you think awkward social situations have long predated the Internet?… It’s just a new kind of awkward.”
Now we have to mount it???
During the E.J. Dionne David Brooks segment of All Things Considered last night, Brooks took the old “Democrats don’t have a plan” argument one step further:
Mr. DIONNE: I think what you have are several Democratic alternatives. Democrats are being asked to solve a nearly insoluble problem, so nobody has a very good plan, including the president, I would argue.
What you have is the Biden idea of partition. You have Levin, who wants to take it down slowly, and you have immediate withdrawal. You may like or not like those, but those are alternatives. [...]
Mr. BROOKS: I would say not fully - I mean, the Biden thing is the one I think is the most promising. but you can’t only just float it in a speech. You have to get a coalition to support it, you’ve got to get generals to support it, you’ve really got to mount it. In the way the surge has been mounted over the past month, nobody’s organized that effort.
Uh, David, our side has a slight disadvantage in that none of us has the title “Commander in Chief.”
Bush made “mistakes”
“Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.” Note the passive voice. The President does not admit, “I made mistakes.” Rather, others made mistakes, but he (graciously) takes responsibility. This is a far cry from Harry Truman’s “The Buck Stops Here.” If President Bush wants to win back the trust of the American people, he has to begin by being honest with them.
“I have made grievous mistakes, and those mistakes have resulted in a national disaster. I persuaded the Congress and the American people that the United States needed to invade Iraq in order to remove weapons of mass destruction. I was wrong. There were no weapons of mass destruction. I assured the Congress and the American people that the war in Iraq would be easy. I was wrong. More Americans have been killed in Iraq than were killed on 9/11, the war has already cost the nation hundreds of billions of dollars, and the there is no end in sight. I assured the American people that we had sufficient troop strength in Iraq to quell the insurgency and that the Iraqi government would take responsibility for the safety of the Iraqi people. I was wrong, again, on both counts.”
As the polls shows, Americans know all this, but the President cannot bring himself to say it. READ ON
I’m off now to listen to the podcast of Stone’s ”Government Secrecy v. Freedom of the Press” talk.
The RIAA 17th Century button-makers
Mike sees similarities between the RIAA and a group of 17th century French button makers:
“...the button makers guild raises a cry of outrage; the tailors are beginning to make buttons out of cloth, an unheard-of thing. The government, indignant that an innovation should threaten a settled industry, imposes a fine on the cloth-button makers. But the wardens of the button guild are not yet satisfied. They demand the right to search people’s homes and wardrobes and fine and even arrest them on the streets if they are seen wearing these subversive goods.”
Requiring permission to innovate? Feeling entitled to search others’ property? Getting the power to act like law enforcement in order to fine or arrest those who are taking part in activities that challenge your business model? Don’t these all sound quite familiar? Centuries from now (hopefully much, much sooner), the actions of the RIAA, MPAA and others that match those of the weavers and button-makers of 17th century France will seem just as ridiculous.