In Evgeny Morozov’s article, “The Death of the Cyberflâneur”, the humble beginnings of the Internet and its users are compared to the practices of the early flâneurs of the late 1800s. Without any goals, motives, or purpose, the flâneur aimlessly wanders the city as to absorb each detail of their surrounding. Following the pace of a turtle, the flâneur should ideally be taking their time when observing their surrounding. In regard to the beginning of the Internet, the services provided then pale in comparison to what utility the web serves today. Before the advent of Facebook, Amazon, Reddit, or Google, people surfed the web without any one goal. As the streets of France became busier with business and technology, flânerie became dangerous and easily distractible; similarly, with the pace at which the Internet had grown, similar affects reflected onto the cyberflâneur. Surfing the web, anonymity, and aimless exploration soon become replaced with utilities that get jobs done, constant social media prescience, and an agenda of things to look up or accomplish. Consequences of this transformation can be seen throughout society. Having this abundance of information at fingertip length leads to complacence. Being constantly plugged into a grid leads to a lack of control over what a person can keep private, especially when there is a lack of care in regards to what a person is sharing due to said complacence.
Much like the how streets of France are a physical space for flâneurs, the web holds its own space for cyberflâneurs. As we’ve learned in class, form follows function. With the Internet in its current state and the streets of France cluttered with new technology, things inevitably have to change in order to function. It’s up to the user to figure out what comes next within their context. Whether this takes form in “internal flânerie” underground or new web mediums for cyberflânerie; form, indeed, follows function.
I think Morozov makes important points, however, I think many of his arguments can be double edged. On one hand, Morozov makes the case that having news from Facebook skews people’s perception of the is going on; however, with half a dozen clicks, more or less, several sources and links can be found with little effort. Seeing as how the speed of the Internet has changed vastly from the days of dial-up, the cyberflâneur’s turtle now more so resembles a rabbit with super speed. Flânerie can be still achieved; however, it is true that it is much more rare now a days with all the utility the web has to offer. In specific to modern flânerie, Reddit is a hugely popular way for people to get lost in the web. One minute, you could be on a sub-Reddit about Rubik’s Cubes and in the next, you could be on a page about Swedish-pop funk. Even more specifically, there is an actual website that takes you to another random website at the click of a button. Regardless of where it can be found, cyberflânerie lives on.