Brendan Iwashko-Reading Response 2: The Death of the Cyberflâneur

Evgeny Morozovs article The Death of the Cyberflâneur relates the rise of the internet to the rise of Paris in the 19th century through a unique type of person: the flâneur. A flâneur is described as someone (generally a man) who would slowly wander the streets of Paris in the 19th century, a time in which great technological, architectural, and social change was slowly but surely occurring. Flâneurs would walk around for hours at a time, often through the arcades of Paris, with absolutely no goal in mind except to take in the world around him. Flâneurs basically went extinct during the rule of Napolean III, when Paris began to become rapidly modernized.

In the 1990s, flâneure found its way back into the world with the early rise of the internet. The idea of a “cyberflâneur” emerged, and thrived for a short period when the internet was relatively anonymous, slow, and undirected. However, Morozov argues that today cyberflâneure is extinct and relatively impossible: “Everything that makes cyberflâneure possible – solitude and individuality, anonymitiy and opacity, mystery and ambivalence, curiosity and risk-taking – is under assault by [Facebook].” Morozov does not seem to take a strong stance, but definitely recognizes the problems that this new social age creates.

This reading is relevant to our course because it addresses the evolution of media, particularly the internet, and the way we have become more and more social in our media intake. It addresses the problems in experiencing everything without an individual lens, and the different way we experienced things in the past. From this, we can draw conclusions on how and why media has changed, and will changed, based on the lens we see it through.

This article was most relevant to my own experiences as well. After reading it, I was inspired to explore, and ended up hopping on a random bus and ended up seeing some interesting sights. I did not take any pictures, but in order to bring some of what I saw into this post, I found this random image from Pearl St.:

Going flâneuring, I did not take any photos myself, but the experience of seeing random things, talking to random people, and ending up random places was something I am not used to in a world where technology makes things more and more predictable.