And how many more lives will it ruin before it's finally shut off? n+1, the most important literary magazine of our time, came to the sad conclusion that the internet will never "blow over," in the words of one panelist, n+1's Mark Greif. And so they organized a forum called "The Internet: We All Live There Now." I swallowed a Xanax, along with my pride, and checked it out.
n+1 editor and novelist Keith Gessen started off by pointing out the shame involved in talking about the internet, possibly it's because it's something we confront by ourselves—we do it alone.
"Is it more stigmatized to masturbate to internet porn or to be so vain as to Google your own name?" he asked, adding that he hadn't done either in the last couple of days.
Commentary from the four panelists ranged from the pedantic ("many web sites today seem to use the concept of the 'page,'" according to Greif, although he did make other, funnier points) to, well, the pedantic: "How is the internet changing literary style?" asked writer Caleb Crain. Answer: The internet is always "welcoming us to the party, saying 'wanna hear something funny?' and 'Know who else is here?'"
Indecision author Benjamin Kunkel elucidated on porn versus politics on the internet—they are the opposite, as it turns out! Politicians fear exposure, while porn stars welcome it. Moe from Jezebel took a swig of Colt 45 when she stepped on the podium, which she had thoughtfully concealed in a brown paper bag.
During the Q&A session, Gessen said that it was common in the literary world to "pretend no one saw the last post about you on Gawker," adding that of course everybody read it anyway. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, being the one responsible.
As for why the internet makes us all such bad people, I would say that it's gone Warholian on us: in the future, everybody will be called an assclown on their own blog. As much as this hurts, we have no choice but to welcome it. Or drop out—delete your Facebook and nobody will remember you ever again.