Go fearlessly into the Internet, but not blindly, says Virginia Heffernan – each corner of digital culture has its best practices. Not learning them is a disrespect.
Virginia Heffernan has been hooked on the Internet since she first heard the sour-lemon screechy tones of dial-up back in 1979, and believes it to be among mankind’s great masterpieces. The journalist and author has watched digital culture evolve into a fully-fledged civilization that is richly detailed, with corners and compartments that are as different as all the world’s tribes. Heffernan doesn’t see the Internet as a "neurotoxin" and she urges people to stop feeling guilty about using apps and websites, as if they’re a cheat from real-world living; a way to waste time but not to spend it. She cares not whether people go online for business or leisure, only that they dive in wholeheartedly, use it with confidence and learn the lingo, style, and constraints of whatever platform they choose to be a part of. Business must be brave; individuals even braver. Don’t just mill around the sanitized designs of apps like Instagram and e-commerce sites, she says, wade in further to websites and platforms that feel foreign to experience the full humanity of a community that is different from you – but will adopt you if you drop the right syntax. Don’t half-ass it; become a digital native. Virginia Heffernan is the author of Magic and Loss: The Pleasures of the Internet.
Could Pokémon GO be considered art? Journalist Virginia Heffernan believes the game bears the hallmarks of great art — exploration, movement (of the soul or the soles), and a call to instinct.
Strange as it seems, it may have taken augmented reality to open our eyes to the real world. Journalist Virginia Heffernan recalls visiting Massachusetts recently, following a Pokémon through the streets, when she looked up and noticed a plaque she’d never seen before. The game had pushed her beyond what she knew, and unlike most apps, invited her to physically venture outside the narrow confines of comfort, towards real-world discovery.
In the digital era, you have two choices: unplug your modem or bear witness to the world. Virginia Heffernan explains how the internet is more than an entertainment arena, it's also a courtroom floor.
Black Lives Matter is a movement that swept across the United States after the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. The movement is massive enough to have its own Twitter, Tumblr, and URL. In two years it has unfortunately amassed a library o of articles on Wikipedia, with links to many pages about shootings of young black American citizens and other deaths.
Cast off your Luddite gloom. The Internet is simply the greatest thing to ever happen to the world. It incorporates every element of art, culture, and ingenuity, taking humanity to a wholly new era.
Virginia Heffernan, journalist and cultural critic, believes the Internet is one of the great advances not only of our current culture, but of any culture at any point in history. The Internet allows for better documentation of the world around us, and we are slowly getting closer to a completely accurate documentation of history. Heffernan compares prior historical documentation to the crackle of vinyl records: they are a representation of reality created by humans but with a low fidelity to reality itself.
Virginia Heffernan writes regularly about digital culture for The New York Times Magazine. In 2005, Heffernan (with co-writer Mike Albo) published the cult comic novel The Underminer. In 2002, she received her PhD in English Literature from Harvard.