I've been online since the early 1980's. Bulletin Board Systems. Email. The WELL. Usenet. Hand-coded web sites. eWorld. Tribe. LiveJournal. MySpace. Blogger. The original incarnation of Tumblr. Facebook. Blah blah blah.
What every commenter has missed in this thread, is the fact that Stephen Fry's article has nothing to do with technology... it's a love song to the rebellious nature of youth. And that it is the rebels who move the world forward. Not the sheep following along single-file behind the leader. He mourns the loss of the rebellious spirit of youth.
Women wore pants to rebel.
Rebels rejected the 2.5 kids and a white picket fence "nuclear family" and embraced communes, roommates, and living alone.
Punks tried to tear down every societal norm to rebel.
Metal heads applied skill and craft to rebellious ideas and tools and developed a finely honed precision to their rebellion.
Grunge rejected the precision of metal and went sloppy. Both in clothing and technology.
Rap rebelled against the structure of a band, and the assumption the front man should sing.
Every single one of these things were driven by the young, rebelling against the ways of the old.
Stephen Fry makes the simple point that the most common thing - the thing that Advertisers love, the thing the mass media has fully embraced, the thing even your parents are doing - is Social Media. So the most rebellious thing you could do is dump these tools of the modern bourgeoisie, and go analog.
Talk in person.
Make things with your hands.
Don't buy in to the machine and become a cog in their wheel... opt out! You don't HAVE to be on social media. You don't HAVE to have email.
The case he makes is that people like he and I have lived in both worlds, and by personal experience we know that both are valuable. But being electronically connected is now the norm. Adults today have grown up with screens and internet connections. These are today's Normal.
But rebellion is about fighting against the norm.
So the most rebellious thing one can do now is opt out of the digital advert-verse, and engage people in a real way. Face to face. Don't offer up your eyes, your mind, your time, and your soul, to advertisers, just to get another momentary endorphin jag.
The comments in this thread are really pretty funny to me. And a bit sad and pathetic at the same time... seeing people clutch so hard to something, as it cuts into their hands and the blood runs down their arms and they cry "I'm fine! Don't touch me!" and cower in the corner...
The internet is a tool.
A needle is a tool.
Put heroin in the needle, and you'll become unhealthily obsessed with the tool.
Put yourself on social media, and your internet becomes an obsession, rather than a tool. Now YOU are a tool of the advertisers. Rebel. Don't offer yourself up to be lied to. Go where they can't get you. Rebel.