Tech

Andrew Keen: Don't Be Corrupted By The Stupidity and Narcissism Of Social Media

In a blistering speech aimed straight at the jugular of Facebook, Andrew Keen, author of Digital Vertigo launched a stinging attack on the ephemeral and narcissicistic aspects of social media.

"We can’t be corrupted by the stupidity and narcissism that social media is promoting," he said.

"Social media is not catching up to human behaviour," he added, referring to a comment made by Joanna Shields, vice president, EMEA for Facebook. "These companies like Facebook think they're the first to discover social networks, but we're here in a place (St Pancras International) which was a network of a different kind a long time ago and has been reinvented over and over."

Keen is the author who in his manifesto, "Eleven Unfashionable Thoughts About Digital Utopianism" identifies the next Great Seduction as digital utopianism.

There he writes that "nobody is arguing with Silicon Valley, nobody is telling the truth, nobody is exposing Web 2.0 as Communism 2.0." That is, communism bad, Web 2.0 bad too.

In his speech at the Wired 2011 conference at St Pancras Hotel, London, Keen also rejected the notion that loneliness must be avoided and that sharing photos of yourself online is a worthy way of communicating.

"I went to the top of the parthenon and all I saw was people taking photos of themselves, fueling their online narcissism," he said. The lack of appreciation of the great historical place, and the journey getting their striking him most striking him as bizarre and ridiculous.

Not content in sticking it to Facebook, he stuck it to Napster's Sean Parker as well. "When he was launching his new project Airtime, Sean Parker said he wants to end loneliness. It's important not to end loneliness like he says. Human nature is essential, and it's important to recognise what that is."

After a day of digital backslapping, his refreshingly antagonistic opinions yielded a peeling round of applause.

You can buy Andrew Keen's book The Cult of the Amateur: How Blogs, MySpace, YouTube and the Rest of Today's User Generated Media are Killing Our Culture and Economy on Amazon