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Tolstoy on clickbait and Princess Kate

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Many years ago, when I was just a guest blog-curator on C@W, during CU’s hols I ran a short series: Schopenhauer on blogging.  Yep, nothing changes: and I now find Tolstoy had some views on social media and clickbait too.

… it has now come to pass that as soon as any event, owing to casual circumstances, receives an especially prominent significance, the organs of the press immediately announce this significance.  As soon as the press has brought forward the significance of the event, the public devotes more and more attention to it.  The attention of the public prompts the press to examine the event with greater attention and in greater detail.  The interest of the public further increases, and the organs of the press, competing with one another, satisfy the public demand.  The public is still more interested; the press attributes yet more significance to the event.  [OK, we get the point - EdSo that the importance of the event, continually growing like a lump of snow, receives an appreciation utterly inappropriate to its real significance, and this appreciation, often exaggerated to insanity, …. etc etc (1906)

He always was a wordy bugger. 

It’s clear enough: since the dawn of the printing press, reactionary forces have lamented whenever the layperson gets a new opportunity to self-publish their nasty little thoughts that depart from whatever wisdom the priesthood of the age seeks to guard.  I have a suspicion a well-read classical scholar could find something from Cicero or Aristotle along the same lines.   Reading?  We can’t have the peasants doing that.  Bible in the vernacular?  No no no!

That’s technology for you.  And the human spirit, etc.



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