March 29, 2013

LILEKS: CONTEXT MATTERS:

That’s the thing that annoys me sometimes about the Internet: mining the past for yuks without context or useful annotation. Why, look: someone on Buzzfeed discovered a tumblr that put up some Interior Desecrations-style pictures because Mad Men OMG. As it turns out, some of the pictures might well be from my site, or book; some are from another tumblr. The source doesn’t matter; context doesn’t matter. A LIST OF THINGS PEOPLE LOOK AT THIS IT’S A LIST

By calling them “Mad Men” era pictures*, Mr. Copyranter demonstrates that the term means “back then before disco and Reagan,” unless he’s anticipating the new season’s timeframe, which I doubt. Someone in the comments — bless you — notes that I was on this oh, ten years ago, and he curtly responds that he credited the source from which he took the pictures. As opposed to “really? There was an internet that did those things when I was in middle school? Cool; I’ll check that out.” But that’s normal. Expected. I just wonder if context and precedent matter much anymore, or whether remix culture regards everything as a punchline undeserving of context. Because the past sucked except for when they were 12 and had that Mario game and if you remember jumping for that mushroom you’re awesome.

Empathy is always held up as a great virtue, but it’s remarkable how so few people have empathy with the total sum of the American experience beyond their own self-definition. It’s possible that somewhere in their heart of hearts they think “I am a milky-pallor wisp-chested neutral with thick-framed glasses well aware that my grandfather was being shot at in Italy when he was my age, and I am writing posts about the 23 Sloth Babies That Will Make Your Day.” That can sting.

Oh, and speaking of Buzzfeed, context, empathy and making moral assumptions based on aesthetics, “WARNING — GLACIER SUNGLASSES RECOMMENDED TO AVOID RETINA DAMAGE.”

* Speaking as someone who grew up in a house whose decor was frozen in time in 1963**, of course those aren’t Mad Men-era aesthetics in the above photos.

** Similarly, pop culture for my parents ended pretty much the day the Beatles touched down at JFK. Thank God that Jimmy Page fellow played a guitar with Les Paul’s name on it to bridge the chasm between my father and me.