Site not look beautiful? Click here


Book review: ‘Digital Vertigo’


The Details

Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us
One stars
By Andrew Keen, $26

Andrew Keen hit it big with 2007’s The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture, an incredibly stupid but incredibly entertaining book. Keen’s new work, Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us, picks up where the last one left off … in the stupid department, at least.

Who does Keen select to speak on behalf of social media? The fictionalized version of ex-Facebook president Sean Parker, from Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network, a movie that 1. portrays Facebook and social networking in an unfavorable light and 2. changes historic facts to do so. In other words, Keen is sparring with a straw man.

And yet Keen loses, by making melodramatic overstatements (“Today’s creeping tyranny of an ever-increasingly transparent social network that threatens the individual liberty, the happiness and, yes, perhaps even the very personality of contemporary man”), disrespecting his colleagues and combining quotes from smart people in an attempt to sound smart himself. He tops it all off with an off-base Holocaust analogy.

Actually, the real topper is the concluding “argument:” Keen wants to show that the “beauty of human intimacy” triumphs over the evils of social media. He “proves” this by pointing out that The King’s Speech beat The Social Network for Best Picture. That’s the final point he makes in this ostensibly academic book. Just awful.

Oh, and the font is too small.

Photo of Rick Lax

Rick Lax

Rick wrote the books Fool Me Once: Hustlers, Hookers, Headliners, and How Not to Get Screwed in Vegas and Lawyer ...

Get more Rick Lax

Commenting Policy

Previous Discussion:

  • Michael Hastings’ posthumous novel, The Last Magazine, takes a no-prisoners approach to the roman à clef, the tip of his spear this time the failing ...

  • What if Han Solo was a big, green alien who looks more like Swamp Thing than Harrison Ford?

  • "“We lived in a misunderstood city, in a place that thrives only by convincing outsiders that it is something it is not..."

  • Get More Print Stories
Top of Story