The new technology we have to communicate is amazing and wonderful. Yet I suspect many people would still at some moments resonate to these words of the actor Daniel Craig:

The quotidian turn in proceedings prompts a query as to whether Craig is on Facebook. “No, I am bloody not,” he says vehemently. “And I’m not on Twitter either. They’ve proved pretty useful in Egypt and they might yet prove useful in Iran, but here? ‘Woke up this morning, had an egg’? What relevance is that to anyone?” He’s building up a head of steam now. “Social networking? Just call each other up and go to the pub and have a drink. There’s some talk of a new class-system paradigm – that, in future, the world will be divided between those who ‘get’ social networking and those who don’t. I’m really not bothered. But I hope the generations to come learn to be a little bit cynical and learn how to mess it up a bit.”

Perhaps Craig’s antipathy to social networking is fostered by his need to “shut out enormous amounts of crap” that get posted, texted and Tweeted about him…”oh man, the hating on the internet. Maureen Dowd wrote a good piece about this in The New York Times; no one’s going to question the prudence of it, because of the comment-is-free lobby ensuring that the internet is only tokenly policed, but, if you actually read some of this stuff, it’s like there’s a bunch of sociopaths out there who want to go out and rip you to pieces. It feels like that’s the norm, that the internet has licensed this vitriol. I think there needs to be a big debate about it, some kind of research done into how it affects our actual relations with others.” He pauses, and sighs. “I mean, if people are dealing with their lives by hating, that’s a problem, isn’t it?”

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor at Stanford University. @KeithNHumphreys