"They say I'm negative, but they're not positive."
At the risk of sounding a positive note, it may be said that forms of
computer mediated communication, such as MUDs (textual interactive
discursive "environments,") open up a space,-- psychological, emotional,--
that permits a leveling of politeness and the emergence of a sort of frankness.
Reservations are in order, since clearly the shift to telematic, from face-to-face
contact fosters a level of uncertainty, the potential for dishonesty, the
invisible subterfuges of mediation.
Nevertheless, the American cultural model, being adopted more or less quickly
around the globe, lacks forums and niches dedicated to the discussion of difficult
problems facing us collectively, whether environmental, capital, technological or
otherwise. Those (pseudo) forums which do exist are plagued, most often by the
strictures of politeness, bald faced business interest, or political correctness.
(Whatever that may represent in a given context.)
And further, earnest attention to cresting difficulties is forestalled by the incredible
distraction of the corporate sensorama. Young and old need some time to mine the
mysteries of their own cultural and family histories, their own mental and physical
peculiarities; such things as are buried in an avalanche of shoulder tapping publicity,
the Michelin man and disembodied radio huckster
taking the place of angels and devils whispering in our ears. Taking the place of animistic
spirits and felt intuition, forcing themselves upon us in every square foot of available space.
The garden plots they supplant, and the luxury apartments that grow up out of the ruin of green
space combine to structure the increasingly inward, indoor, networked, 24 hour, shadowed hum of
the new systemic franchise on the human spirit.
Self censorship: political correctness
Politeness: but not foreign policy
If the increasing research and vocational foci of the new academia haven't eliminated discussion,
then high student-to-teacher ratios insure that discussion and argument give way to the more top-
down authoritarian models established in TV and radio. The mock forums presented within the latter
media -- called "talk shows" -- are apt to avoid seemingly insoluble problems, themes that are not upbeat.
Anomie is not an engine for ratings.
But anonymity and (textual) discussion --
both readily available with Internet communications, can lead to more radical expressions of opinion,
sentiment, etc. While the liberty to speak with impunity often leads to erotic banter, or escapist role
playing, the opportunity exists, nonetheless to make pronouncements without fear. A tiny voice inside
one's head may take center stage without a body fearing it will be labeled schizophrenic, un-American, or
dishonorably "negative." Negativity after all is a negative thing all 'round.
Charges of "You're too negative" are levied overtly and implicitly in the American mainstream.
This kind of sniping is a manifestation of ideology, a sort of inertia immanent in the wildly
destructive, hyper-consuming, and repressive corridors of the Disney-fied world.