Enthusiasms, Enthusiasms, Enthusiasms,

The above comes from Al Capone (Robert DeNiro) in The Untouchables.  

On a new Grantland podcast by Alex Pappademas and Wesley Morris, the two discussed Pappademas’ article celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Loser” by Beck and Beck’s subsequent career.  The topic of Midnight Vultures came up and in defending it as a way of seeing a real part of Beck, Pappademas made the point that people are often the most real version of themselves when they are reveling in their enthusiasms.  That is a perfect description of why blogging is such a big part of internet culture and why the internet has become so important.

Blogging’s popularity as an activity lies in that it allows people the opportunity to talk about their enthusiasms and celebrate who they are and what they love with very little filter.  Blogging’s popularity for readers is it allows them to find others who are like them.  Blogging and Twitter help build communities of the like-minded from around the world about issues and topics.

This is both good and bad.  It is good in how the internet actually does make the world a little smaller and a little less lonely for people on the fringes in out of the way places.  It creates communities that may not have formed before.

It is bad in how sometimes it allows people to shrink their world to only the people who agree with them.  Often out of comfort people only seek out the likeminded and choose the news and information they want to be exposed to.  This makes them even more hardened in their perspectives by not allowing themselves to experience even a tenth of all that is out there to read and see.  It is also bad in how the anonymity provided gives people the guts to say and do things on the internet they would never say or do to a person’s face.

While these are problems, they have always been problems since the printing press made mass communication easier, and it is has been a problem of the internet going all the way back to the bulletin board days.  Yet, these problems do not diminish the good the internet has done in opening the world up a little bit more.

Like the printing press before it the internet has made the world a little smarter and a little more interesting.  In making us all potential reporters, reviewers and experts, we all can find someone near us who likes the same stuff we do.

You like obscure Blaxploitation movies from the 70s, Google it and you might find a blogger or a Tweeter nearby with the same passion and you can go out for a drink and hang out and talk about Pam Grier for a couple of hours.

You like a Belgian-style tripple you found on vacation in California last year, Google it and you might find a blog that lists all the places close to you that sell it or you might find someone on Twitter willing to sell you a bottle from their personal stash.

That is what the internet provides all of us.  It makes it possible for us to celebrate our enthusiasms and connect with people near and far over those enthusiasms.  It allows us to be more of ourselves and shrinks the world to let us know we are not alone.

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