Last Thursday, Construction magazine convened four writers and lots of literary folks at Brooklyn’s BookCourt to chat about the Internet and its effects on criticism and journalism.
Good times were had by all. My reflection is up on the Construction site.
It’s nice to sit in a bookstore and talk about the Internet with live people, instead of blogging or reading a Facebook feed or looking at Twitter. As useful as social media may be, ideas are best exchanged in-person.
As I wrote: “But it was perhaps panelist Jacob Silverman’s article ‘Against Enthusiasm‘ that had convened the roundtable. The article, published in Slate two months prior, was more than a polemic; it struck a cord with writers everywhere because it demonstrated the need for literary criticism to remain strong in the face of the hyper-friendly ethos of social media. This argument exposed an additional writerly undercurrent revealed during the discussion—the idea that enthusiasm and social media in the writing world are corollary to the problem of loneliness; the sense that a reader, a writer, or a critic is alone in his world while everyone else is connected, social, viral, followed, and ‘liked.’ While Maud Newton pointed out that ‘it’s important not to make everything like a big slumber party’—a behavior Silverman had accused critics of in his article—she was just as appreciative of value in the Web as a kind of salon for debate. Then again, sometimes there is, as Witt said, simply ‘too much noise.'”