What do these legions of useless nerds represent?

by phil on Tuesday Sep 15, 2009 2:26 AM

I often wonder why I spend so much time on reddit. Reddit is an online link sharing community filled with edgy and obnoxious computer nerds. It reminds me of some of the people I associated with in High School, who had nothing better to do than pull pranks and moderate chat rooms all day. And reddit has all these cultural connections to 4chan which represents the most raw and sociopathic tendencies of online communities.

This population of useless nerds is growing. They're the kind of people that play World of Warcraft all day. Who are these people?

And then it dawned on me. Do these people represent the glorious new leisure class that modernism was supposed to deliver to us? The expectation of a broad leisure class (not to be confused with other leisure class theories) comes from the assumption that all this technologically-created economic abundance should unchain people from doing things they don't need to do, allowing them to be creative.

But what has really happened is that the candidates for this leisure class simply don't sign up. Instead they sign up for more credit cards, rack up girlfriends and boyfriends, consume more than they need, and then they have to go back the grind.

Online geeks, on the other hand, have no real world social lives or material needs, and consequently have loads of free time. By simply holding a part-time job as a Network Admin, these guys can afford a small apartment and an infinite supply of ramen and pizza.

Instead of using that freedom to be creative, they just goof off and slack. This is the darkside of that glorious creative class we were promised.

(On the other hand, given large enough legions of these goons, a small percentage of them turn their obsessions into things like Microsoft, Apple or Google.)

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