TOWARDS A UNIFIED FIELD THEORY ON HOW THE INTERNET MAKES EVERYTHING TERRIBLE
I have nothing bad to say about Breaking Bad. I was completely gripped by Sunday night’s episode. I’ve watched it twice and enjoyed it more the second time. I think when the show concludes it is certain to go down as one of the great dramas in TV history. What quibbles I have with the show I recognize as just that - quibbles.
So why on Monday did the internet make me ashamed to have watched the show, much less to have liked it?
Part of the revulsion is no doubt due to some vestigial adolescent need to feel myself ahead of the crowd and just getting cranky when I find my tastes are actually not particularly unique or special.
But beyond that, I think there is something terrifying about the way the internet turns out for these events and cranks up the GIF, meme, Tweet and think piece machines like some sort of disembodied 4th of July parade. These moments carry a desperation with them; the logical conclusion of the Bowling Alone thing, where now living our lives glued to our individual screens cut off from actual human interaction, we are desperate to find ways to march together. I’ve noticed that these events- awards shows, series premieres, etc. are becoming bigger and bigger of group phenomenons. Super Bowl ratings have never been higher. The Grammies for chrissake inch upwards. We want to watch together. In our own homes, in front of our own multiple screens.
All to some extent harmless enough. If the world (or the upscale, urban sub-sub-subset of the world) can find some comfort in cheering on an episode of gritty drama together, then good for it for finding some in this cold machine driven world. But the downsides, as I see them are: