Did you read Jonathan Franzen’s essay about writing in the Internet Age? Or was it TL;DR?
Did I even link to it on this blog or did I merely banter about it on Twitter? I can’t remember. That’s another one of the problems of writing in the Internet Age. There’s are too many little words here and there, and not enough long form conversations.
Franzen is not well-liked, and his essay provided lots of fodder for criticism in all the little rooms of the Internet. Some of the criticism was fair; other remarks were one-liners of snark.
At the Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg takes the time to think through the pros and cons of writing today.
In her Slate takedown, Hess calls Franzen “[l]iterature’s preeminent dude-bro,” seeing in his technophobia a snotty fear of the subaltern. “Franzen is less enthused about the prospect of other humans actually responding to his stories—or, God forbid, telling their own stories without the aid of Franzen’s refined literary filter,” she writes. Thanks to the Internet, she points out, “a much wider and diverse group of humans now has the power to inform privileged literary voices like Franzen about what the conditions are actually like on the ground.” This is clearly true. Maybe it even makes up for losing paper books and brick-and-mortar bookstores and one newspaper after another, for the collapse in freelance rates and attention spans and the wearying professional imperative to collect followers rather than readers and to build a brand rather than develop a voice.
For all my friends who are very proud of their thousand or so followers on Twitter, let me point you to Jonah’s 14-year old friend. He makes Vine videos about Asian parents. He has 800,000 followers on Vine.