22 April 2014
The social anxiety
Reading Anxiety of influence: how Facebook and Twitter are reshaping the novel. It discusses both Dave Eggers' new novel The Circle, which I have not yet read, and Jennifer Egan's old novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, which I read back in 2013. Both deal with how people use and will use social technology. Eggers' is set in the future; Egan's spans past and future, with its future chapters chilling and incisive. I don't want to live there, but to a certain degree I already do and we all will. There's a particularly honest passage quoted about 2/3s down the Anxiety article. One character stops a face-to-face conversation so that she can continue it via text messages. To her, they are more direct and expressive. I understand that.
For no particular reason that I can recall, I had been recalling scenes from M. T. Anderson's Feed, which I read back in 2009. The Circle seems to have similar themes painting social media as golden handcuffs. And group these with Scott Westerfeld's Extras, which I read back in 2008. In that, social media, as in The Circle, becomes a shareable currency. Becomes the only currency. This is a unique anxiety that possibly didn't exist during other connection explosions. Postal. Telegraph. Wireless. Were we terrified of immediacy back then? Or is our current situation simply a higher energy state that risks so much more?
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