is the internet killing literature?

I read this article on SMH today, and it really struck a chord.

I use my blog to post interesting or entertaining links, pictures, stories or videos, but it's not all my own work. It's like an online scrapbook of other people's stuff that I find interesting, with the odd post about something I feel like writing about. How self-indulgent!

So when I read this interview with writer Cate Kennedy - who fears that our collective addiction to the internet is killing our ability to produce quality literature - I was intrigued. Because, like many journalists and writers, I've always felt that everything I've done so far in my life is simply leading up to the point where I write and publish that incredible, compelling, New York Times best-selling novel. The very same one that sets the literary world on fire, sells 3 million copies, and allows me to retire in the Greek Islands.

I've often wondered whether google is making me dumb, or at the very least impatient (I want the answer to everything right now!). Cate has confirmed that she considers the internet's constant flow of unprocessed information and chatter ''toxic to fiction'', which she believes requires quiet, slow reflection by writers and readers.

''We're decontextualising, pasting bits of other people's work on our blogs and creating unoriginal mash-ups,'' she says.

Yep, we sure are. Well, I am, anyway..

The flip side of the coin is, at least I'm writing/slash/creating something every other day. Without a blog I don't think I'd write anything "for fun" outside of work, so surely that's a good thing for my own creative development? 

Cate's not so sure. As a judge of the Vogel Award for young novelists, she says she reads many manuscripts where "they're not reading or thinking about the impact of the words on the page."
Cate will deliver a speech called 'Can Literature Survive the Digital Age?' at the Sydney Writers' Festival on May 21; I hope she's got good news!


Agnes said...

I've actually had these very thoughts for a while. But I don't think that it's so much that the Internet is killing creativity, but that EVERYBODY thinks they're a writer, whether qualified or not. So there's more badly-written garbage on the internet and, as a result, readers are becoming desensitised to the quality of writing. They learn to process the information and not the thought behind it.

I think writers and creative souls will never lose their literary abilities because it is what drives them. But it is harder to find truly great, inspiring writing in the flood of non-grammatical "we don't have time to think about syntax, sense or meaning" garbage.

But it’s hard to make new generations care about true literary genius when they aren’t taught to love, appreciate or play with their language. If you don’t teach kids grammar how can you expect them to produce good written work? You can’t. Internet or not.

Oh sorry. I thought you had ordered the Agnes rant for breakfast. No? Prefer a cup of tea instead. Sorry...

Sarah Megginson said...

hehe I'm always up for an Agnes rant :)

Apparently kids are starting to hand in essays at school in text language - gr8, in2, etc... wtf?!?!?!?