What will the Professor say today?

Now’s as good a time as any to start blogging again. What with Facebook and all the new new forms of 140-character communication, this dust-smelling form seems practically retro only a few years after its inception. Conveniently, this means that my parents have probably stopped reading this, and I can be a little more simple and direct. Anyway, I think most ideas worth repeating deserve more than 140 characters.

I woke up this afternoon. My sleep schedule has rotated severely with my work on this new musical, Zombie Vixens from Hell. As so many other people did, I read the dreadful news about the shootings in Colorado, and this in turn led me to do as much research as I possibly could about lone wolf terrorists in one hour. This search led me to read this interesting document, which describes the Internet as a fresh source of power for such terrorists. I think the Internet is awesome and wonderful. But I have seen a frightening tendency among my friends and me of only wanting to interact on the Internet with people who share our point of view. I find myself reaching for the Unfriend button on Facebook when someone has an opinion that disagrees with mine, and I’ve seen nearly all of my friends do the same. Which brings up the interesting question: What is it about us that makes us only want to interact with people who share our points of view? What about the Internet makes us more closed-minded, not less?

Here’s a completely unsupportable supposition that will, I think, demonstrate its own truth in time: James Holmes made posts in some back shithole of the Internet, describing whatever outrage he felt the need to avenge. And the kicker will be, of course, that he found support and encouragement there.

I think that Facebook is enemy number one in this regard. Facebook tracks every click we make, and little AI gremlins watch us, and determine what we should see next. And Facebook thinks that what we want to see is content from people who share our points of view, whether we’re birthers or Green Party or vegetarians or corrective makeup artists. Newspapers are clearly on their long slow slide into irrelevancy, but newspapers did something very very important for us: they made us read opinions that we didn’t automatically agree with. Facebook has no qualms about feeding our little cocaine monkey brains only what makes us happy; i.e. that which does not challenge our world view.

I make a point of trying to read as many news sources as possible. Each morning I read at least the front pages of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Gamasutra, National Review, The Economist, Gamesindustry.biz, Huffington Post, MCV UK, Slashdot, The Daily Pilot, and the OC Register. I read the Register mostly for comic relief; it’s also fun to play the game of Find The Spelling Or Usage Error Of The Day with the Register. It has been pointed out to me that I read at an unusual speed.

This reading list forces me to be exposed to opinions that I do not automatically agree with. I am hoping there’s some therapeutic value. Lifting weights makes you stronger.

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