Keen: Internet, Truth, and Culture

After reading chapter one of “The Great Seduction” by Andrew Keen, it’s apparent very quickly that his main point is that the Internet is destroying culture today. What I believe to be most interesting is Keen’s idea that the Internet destroys, most specifically, truth. 

But, despite the interesting points Keen brings up, I think he also left out several important factors.

First, I considered Keen’s overall blanket statement that the Internet is destroying our culture. I disagree with this statement – the Internet is certainly changing our culture, yes. But destroying it? That’s a bit too far. Think back to the Dark Ages when the printing press was first released. Higher ups in society were scared of this new technology – it gave the power of knowledge to everyone who wanted access to it. Isn’t that the same thing that’s happening here?

The Internet is morphing our culture – indeed, it is allowing cultures to mix and merge, all online. It gives people from America the opportunity to share ideas and thoughts with people in India or China or Spain – all from the comfort of their couches. If anything, the Internet is destroying the traditional cultural idea that people must be segregated and grouped based on geographic locations and race. 

Next, I considered Keen’s idea that the Internet is destroying the truth. 

Is it, though? Certainly it has changed how we discover the truth. But truth will always be truth, regardless of how one stumbles across it. The Internet makes it easier to discover knowledge and the truth. Perhaps Keen is angry that the Internet makes information easily accessible  – anyone can contribute anything. But doesn’t this make searching for the truth more difficult? Online, there is no yes or no answer. Because the Internet is constantly changing, intellectuals must sift through websites, searching for the true facts. And because we are exposed to so many different opinions from so many Internet contributors, it is impossible to walk away with just one understanding of a concept (which, if I did not have access to the Internet, I would have if by reading Keen’s book). Instead, we are exposed to so many perceptions and opinions that we have no choice but to form our own thoughts – further enhancing our own knowledge. 

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