Maybe Everyone Should Be Quiet For A Bit

Are there too many people writing on the Internet… or are there too many people writing altogether?

This man is right: There are too many people filling every possible orifice of the Internet with their idiot opinions and comical prejudices and poorly-constructed arguments. It’s painful to read and it makes finding the few gems out there a task so laborious that even the most dedicated seeker of readable prose finds herself resigned to defeat and guiltily clicking on something that promises to tell her “here’s how” or “we’re obsessed with” just to keep from being alone with her own thoughts.

But: Have you seen what’s not on the Internet? You would think, what with the supposed influence of those who man the precincts offline, away from the free-for-all of our type-and-post world, that there would be safety in the smooth, heavy paper and creamy finish of print. The work professional editors shepherd through several rounds of revisions (this is how professional editors justify their jobs) should, by virtue of this process, be some kind of oasis far away from the trench filled with misery and despair and broken hopes and terrible GIFs into which so many words on the Internet fall. And yet: THEY ARE NOT ALL THAT MUCH BETTER. (Longer, sure, but that’s a whole other issue.) Marginally, maybe, but it is a close-run thing and it is only getting worse.

As it happens, opening the gates to everyone doesn’t make the stuff coming out of the high towers any better. Those of us who were there at the popularization of the idea that if you removed the gatekeepers there would be a better, more interesting, less incestuous flow of fascinating new voices and underrepresented perspectives owe everyone an apology: It turns out most people don’t have anything very interesting to say and they’re actually a lot worse at saying it than we previously anticipated. Also, what no one expected is that shit flows upward, splattering the finer precincts we once looked to for wisdom with the same awful patina of chatty, “relatable” garbage whose ultimate goal is to be passed around without anyone mentioning how gross your palms feel once you hand it off. We were warned and we didn’t listen and now we’re all paying the price.

That said, you’re not stuffing the genie back into the bottle. The best we can hope for is that this idiot idea that video is the next big thing — and this time it’s going to happen, they tell us — actually turns out to be true and everyone moves away from words because there’s no money in them. Then, and only then, will the people who write on the Internet be the people whose only reason to do so is that they want to, or that they’re too ugly for Facebook Live (although if you have seen much Facebook Live of late I think you will agree that the bar here is comically low). Will it be a better world for those of us who like to read? I cannot say one way or another, but at the very least it will be a quieter one, and really, at this point I will take whatever reduction in volume is on offer. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go click on a collection of tweets about which Democratic presidential candidate’s supporters are worse; while I am away you can use the conversational function here on Medium to point out that I myself should write less if I want there to be less writing, which is a thought that had never once occurred to me. Thanks!