The first month of 2012 has been bleak. The Internet has come under attack from the American government, the slack-jawed cabal of mainstream entertainment companies, and the scat-eating vermin known as the MPAA. The so-called “economic recovery” is more stagnant than pond water, even while it’s being made to look rosier than it is by Capitol Hill press agents, media hand-job manipulation artists, and the creative accounting of companies that continue to lay off workers in order to please their Wall Street robber baron masters.
The biggest technology companies are sinking deeper into the tar pits of patent litigation, while colluding to fix industry salaries and secretly prevent employee movement between companies. The science community has become obsessed with banging out quarks, instead of creating and implementing solutions to the real-life issues that are taking their toll on what we eat, what we drink, and what we breathe. And, Snooki is reportedly still alive.
Not a good start to the new year. Not necessarily Mayan end-of-times bad, but still pretty sucky.
(BTW, when someone named Snooki has a NY Times best-selling book in the same year that one of the funniest writers working today couldn’t crack the top 600,000 sales list in the Amazon Kindle store, there is something horribly wrong with the world. Horribly. Wrong.)
(Oh, that amazingly funny book is here: http://www.amazon.com/Sour-Candy-ebook/dp/B004KSQVC4)
(And also here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sour-candy-aj-axline/1029747629)
(Okay, one more and I swear on my mother’s grave—as yet unfilled, but freshly dug in a remote swamp—that after this I’ll stop asking for your patronage for at least the rest of this column: http://itunes.apple.com/au/book/sour-candy/id416877437?mt=11)
(Snooki. Buhdda wept.)
Anyway, it will likely surprise you to hear that I am optimistic about the remainder of 2012. Much of this optimism has to do with this new medication I’m taking, which has me more chipper than a certain scene from “Fargo”. The side effects are a little difficult to manage, however: dry mouth, inappropriate muscle spasms during urination, and an involuntary verbal tic that causes me to growl “Call me Snake” when I’m dealing with law enforcement personnel and mortgage brokers. Thankfully, these side effects can be mitigated through the educated use of distilled absinthe.
Yes, optimistic I am, as Yoda would say. Some of the basis of my optimism can be found in these words from Kurt Vonnegut Jr., one of the greatest American writers of all time:
“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
This is the best and greatest gift that our technology has given us in this young century… the ability to discover and become a part of virtual communities. To find other people who are members of our personal ‘tribe’, be they across the street or across the planet. This is a powerful and empowering force that has proven capable of curing “the terrible disease of loneliness” that Vonnegut spoke of.
Virtual communities are the “family you choose” just as a circle of friends is. And, they are as varied and as specialized as we as human beings are. They help to fill a gap and fulfill a need that almost all of us have, to associate with like-minded people who (more often than not) understand what we’re trying to articulate about ourselves and our lives. Virtual communities give you the opportunity to share your personal narrative, and relate it to the narratives of others.
This same technology is also providing support to those who choose to protest, who choose to be informed consumers and voters. This is why the politicians and corporations are currently skinning their gums and showing their teeth. Behind the subterfuge surrounding piracy and intellectual property, there is a hostile group of men and women who are not interested in an unfettered Internet.
They are not interested in anything they cannot own, and that includes us.