By LEE SIEGEL
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Additional info for Against The Machine: Being Human in the Era of the Electronic Mob
Computer hackers use the Internet to nearly bring down the government of Estonia. An anonymous Web site reveals the identities of federally protected witnesses in capital cases. Social-networking sites like MySpace and the videoblog site called YouTube turn the most graphic inhumanity—a Texas policeman puts up photos of a dismembered woman; anonymous users post footage of American soldiers in Iraq being gunned down—into numbing new forms of entertainment. The Internet’s most consequential changes in our lives, however, are the ones woven into our everyday routines.
And despite doubling its profits, Xerox cut 3,500 jobs in 2005. Though raking it in, the company had failed to meet Wall Street expectations of accelerating growth. So much for making “meaning” instead of money. As for Oticon, what Brooks never tells you, and what the breathless boobies who extolled his Bobos didn’t bother to find out, was that the company was Danish. For all its “bohemian” rhetoric and style, American business was still devoted to the grim bottom line. ” A new myth was born, one that identified the pursuit of profits with creative play and made profit a justification for just about any social or cultural activity.
For Lasch, the utter banality, as well as the lack of self-knowledge, that lay behind these selfdisclosures and self-dramatizations was what he found so culturally and humanly disheartening. What Lasch could not have foreseen was the effect commerce and the technology of the Internet would have on the way people present their inner lives in public. The 1960s may have accelerated the collapse of the private realm into the public realm; that era of self-expression and shifting boundaries in all areas of life may have famously made the personal the political.