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The dangers of social networking – Mr Calacanis’ very thoughtful post


Jason Calacanis has penned what I think is one of the most thoughtful and insightful posts on the current obsession with social networking and web relationships that I’ve read to date. If you are at all interested in the future of this small ‘chosm -which is what it is of course, very small in real terms – we call the Web, then I strongly suggest you read it.

I won’t go on about it, but it’s a sobering viewpoint that we should note as this nascent community starts to spill out into the real world in earnest. This and Michael Arrington’s recent post on taking a break from online, are extremely powerful and definitive signposts of something greater, and we, publishers, readers and community, ignore them at our peril.

The final thing I will say is this. When we started out to use all this online stuff, the goal was not financial enrichment, it was just to communicate, to Cluetrain the conversation if you like. Very much a give and take. The first wave of dumb Web 1.0 money was risible and most of us watching the train wreck had a good chuckle and continued on our way. But this latest round of, if not dumb, then certainly obsessive, money chasing eyeballs, followers, friends, page views or whatever comes next is not so healthy either.

Yes we need a commercial side to the Web to help fund its growth and success across the globe, but perhaps we should ask just how much we’re willing to pay in terms of the loss of that early friendly community that made it all such a cool and interesting place to be. If we lose the community then really we lose the Web, to a bunch of greedy, selfish and ruthless suits, in much the same way the music industry was wrecked by legions of lawyers and accountants without an ounce of creativity in their bones. There are already signs of it, in the way the major blog properties have been bought, traded and treated like disposable objects.

The web is so much more than just a place to make some quick cash, make a name for yourself or pimp your products. It’s a destroyer of barriers, a way to remove the fear of the unknown, and most importantly a massively important way to bring the fragmented inhabitants of this place we call Earth together in peaceful communication. Idealistic? Yep. Naive? Maybe. Realistic? Definitely.

OK, that’s it, I won’t labour the point. Let’s hope we get some balance back soon. There’s no clear answer, except to be aware of the power of money and personality to damage truth if we don’t watch out. Which is why it’s essential that we support and nurture the EFF and other such organisations I guess. Peace out!

 If you do choose to flame me, I’d ask that you attempt to throttle back your IAS and see me not as an email-producing object, but rather as a 38-year-old searching for answers at the mid-way point in his life, when his collective experience equals his remaining time to experience life. That’s really who I am–just another kid on verge of being old who spends a lot of time thinking about the half-way mark. Be gentle with me.


  • Hi, I read your posts all the time, but this one came close to my heart. I think that internet now became more like real world. In the beginning it was clean friendly place without much things in it. Now it's a wast space where you can get all your wishes if you have the money and know where to seek. Of cause there are a lot of greedy maniacs who would like to live you without pants, but, like in real live we learn to avoid them by living in our small online bubble. We can't create perfect online world as long as it's public and open, we can't limit access to it cause it would kill the freedom. So, I think that because online universe is reflection of real world the change won't come till real world changed.

  • That's an interesting point Nathan, and you're right of course. Online must be a reflection of the real world (if we can attach those distinctions!) and while we focus myopically on financial gain, we're bound to lose bits of our humanity in other ways. I think that we're on the cusp of a big change though. I think that people are genuinely starting to look around to see what needs to be done to improve the human condition. The Internet gives us a way to discuss these things more openly and across a vast landscape, which means there's more chance we'll build something better. It may take time, but I'm convinced we will get back to a quality of life that doesn't involve just 'things' but also 'community'.

    • I really hope so too, but as rationalistic person, who lives i Israel, I see only virtualization of real world, people learned how to hide themselves behind nicknames online, and if a hundred fifty years ago people came to face execution on main square. Today they just as eagerly watch execution online or on TV and then meeting other people in office they put on a mask of humanity.

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