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Jonathan Franzen: what’s wrong with the modern world

Maybe an economically significant number of readers will come to recognise the human and cultural costs of Amazonian hegemony and go back to local bookstores or at least to barnesandnoble.com, which offers the same books and a superior e-reader, and whose owners have progressive politics. Maybe people will get as sick of Twitter as they once got sick of cigarettes. Twitter’s and Facebook’s latest models for making money still seem to me like one part pyramid scheme, one part wishful thinking, and one part repugnant panoptical surveillance.

Franzen is nostalgic about the pre-Internet world and could care less about design. I never understood why people completely reject technology and only look into the negative aspects. True, technology is a terrible distraction, has outsourced our thinking and obviated face to face conversation but technology has also unleashed a lot of creativity and democratized an unheard world with a public microphone. Understood, a lot of the Internet is just noise but it can be filtered so that you can still keep your eyes on the most important things in the world.

The book store and record store aren’t coming back in their traditional format. People want the convenience of lower costs and instant delivery to their devices. Possibly sad, possibly lazy, but the same was probably said of travel before cars and trains were invented. You can still just get away from it all and walk if you wish.