The absence of covers, part 2

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Since I wrote about Slate's piece on how the substitution of digital media like e-books, MP3s, etc for physical books, cassettes, and CDs makes it harder to pick up chicks, I suppose I'm obligated to post the Atlantic's reply. Eleanor Barkhorn says the ease with which we can share our cultural tastes online makes it easier than ever to flirt:

[I]n this era of social media we broadcast our cultural preferences habits more loudly than we ever did before, thanks to status updates on Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, Gchat, and so on. In the past week, followers of my Twitter feed learned that I read the New York Times Styles section cover to cover and I enjoy watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off on bus trips. My Gmail contacts were clued into my love of The Arcade Fire and arty photos of Graceland. Likewise, I can see that my friend Matthew is really into Josh Ritter and my old roommate's ex-boyfriend is reading a Bruce Chatwin novel—and I can (and do) judge them for these choices. Rather than thwart our ability to assess people based on their taste in books, songs, and movies, the Internet facilitates it.

The thing is, when you're constantly bombarded by this kind of information online, you tend to ignore it, and each recommendation takes on less and less significance. It feels like advertising. Those physical encounters, being handed a specially curated mix tape or making eye contact over a novel on the subway, would still win out in my book.