People Talking Without Speaking: The Ignored Disaster

Sitting in front a computer. That’s what I do lately.

It’s what most of us do lately.

Learn the conventions of the web. Tweet it. Like it. Digg it. Write a snappy headline or no one will read it. Stay on top of the trends. It doesn’t matter whether that’s true or not; give people the surface. Don’t confuse, engage.

Give the people what they want.

Meanwhile, in the real world, suffering exists for very complicated reasons. People in Pakistan continue to recover from the flood, but you wouldn’t know it from Digg or Twitter. It’s not as sexy a disaster as hurricane Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti, I suppose, so we don’t talk about it.

Maybe the problem is that Pakistan is too complicated. Right now a poor man is turning turning to Islamic extremists for help. Is that because his democratically elected government is corrupt, or because years of military rule means civic institutions lack the resources to properly care for people?

Or, considering what a mess much of New Orleans still is, does government really even matter in this context?

All questions worth asking, but regardless that man is going to find a way to feed himself and his family. That’s what people in hard situations do: they find a way. That’s the human spirit.

But from here I can’t understand that spirt. Sitting in front of a screen everything is blurry. To me, that person is an abstraction; another hypothetical chip I can throw at an argument no one is listening to.

People talking without speaking; people hearing without listening. And I’m a part of it.

I sincerely believe the world is becoming a better place for the web’s existence, but I fear we’re becoming too simple in the process. We need to find a way to bring complicated arguments to the web, or we’re going to drown in the sheer volume of our simplistic statements.

This isn’t some abstraction; real people are being overlooked because of our inability to process complex information. Let me know if you have any ideas, but I’ve got to get back to work now.

Donate to UNICEF’s efforts in Pakistan.


  1. Hey Justin! That commentary was very well written. You make some very good points and I commend you for saying them out loud. Good for you!

  2. It was illuminating. I mean the mean of communication wich turn on itself. An open wide space where people concentrate just on the space itself makin it closed. The first pages of the most famous news aggregator are filled whit memes , which
    I find awesome, but….

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