Digital Age of Diminishing Returns
Some say that pornography is demeaning to women, that images of people engaging in sex, both real and pretend, flickering on the internet devalues the real thing. In a similar vein, some also say that online dating is reducing the magic inherent in human relationships; turning shopping for love into supermarket shopping over the internet. The digital age it seems is victim of that truism – familiarity breeds contempt. By making everything easy and readily available, be it music, sex, art, relationships etc we are diminishing the value of these things.
The English language is suffering too, with billions of pages and posts online, and some say that it is getting harder to distinguish between copy written for profit and content written to communicate. Communicate passion, inspiration, love, and all those less commercially definable human qualities. Much of the digital content we read is produced in third world countries by writers who have English as a second language. Many of these writers are quite serviceable in their production of online copy. They are utilised by website owners because they are cheap.
Writers who have more mastery of the English language are not so readily employed by the corporate world because it is harder to pay them a pittance. The result is that, we the reading public, are exposed to more and more denuded language. The written content becomes like a skeleton, barely holding together, hardly making sense, and we read more and more of it everyday. At the same time intelligent journalism is fast disappearing from the print media and its digital equivalents. Consumers have stopped buying magazines and newspapers, thinking that information on the net should be free.
PR is spreading through all forms of media like a cancer. Opinion which is paid for fills our news programs on TV and on radio. PR made to look like editorial is everywhere and many people do not know the difference. The internet is a pretty much unrestricted realm where commercial interests outnumber the alternative by hundreds of thousands, if not much more. Consumerism has created open slather, but we do not value anything which stands for educated objectivity; we doubt its very existence. Which is why the ABC is constantly under fire from those with more clearly defined vested interests.
My children are just making their journey toward books and the English language in its greatest forms; both still at primary school. I wonder at their future in a world where language serves only commercial interests and great writing becomes a historical anomaly. Functional language reduced beyond nuance and any reading between the lines; digital copy produced by slaves and machines.