Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Nicholas Carr on MySpace

In response to a rather alarmist story about MySpace, Nicholas Carr writes:
When an adult puts his ear to the door of youth culture, he inevitably mistakes the noise for the signal - and usually misses the signal altogether. So we have Scott Karp reeling back in horror from his visit to MySpace. It is, he tells us, "a DEEPLY DISTURBING place," rife with "sexually suggestive or explicit content." There's even a hint of "murder" in the air. It is "humanity in the raw."

Excuse me while I go sign up for an account.

What's most fascinating about Karp's post, though, is not his reaction to MySpace but his reaction to his reaction to MySpace. Having offered a moral critique - a visceral one - he suddenly goes all wobbly. "I’m not going to do a moral critique of MySpace or Web 2.0 or anything else — that’s not my gig," he says. Then he says it again, with caps: "let me be repeat — this is NOT a moral critique. It’s a practical, business critique." A wise retreat, I suppose. Moral critiques are so uncool. They're the surest way to lose your web cred.
I love the image of an adult putting his ear to the door of youth culture, and Carr uses that as a launching pad for a post that puts the latest teen fad into perspective, and concludes:
I guess you see what you want to see. When I look around MySpace I don't see much that's "strange and wonderful" - or "deeply disturbing," either. I wish I did. What I see is a dreary sameness, a vast assembly of interchangeable parts. Everything feels secondhand: the pimps-and-hos poses before the cameraphone, the ham-fisted, cliche-choked blog-prose. It's sad to see so much effort put into self-expression with so little to express. Humanity in the raw? No, this is humanity boiled to blandness in the tin pot of personalization.

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