One of my guilty pleasures is to read cyberutopian literature from earlier ages. "Earlier ages", in this case, is the time range from the late 80s to somewhere around 2005. A line somewhat arbitrarily drawn, but there is a shift at about that point in time in the outlook on the future. There is a distinct sense of Before and After, if one but knows to look for it.
For instance - ever notice how the concept of "virtual reality" isn't really around anymore? It used to be all the rage, but then it faded away. Why?
One might argue that the new forms of social media have something to do with it. When the possibility to discuss real world things with real world people, the need for intermediaries (may they be ever so realistic) faded away. Or, rather, the virtual reality melded with vanilla reality, and produced the strange place we live in today.
There's more to it than that, to be sure. But you see the shift that has taken place (quite literally in some cases). The optimism that is just about everywhere in the earlier ages (the earlier the better) has for some reason become displaced by the real brutalisms of the social.
And thus, instead of speaking about the internet as a place where the marginal can find soul mates in a dreary world, we have concepts like "cyberbullying".
That glorious future of information superhighways and endless possibilities seems a far cry from where we actually ended up.
How did this come to pass?