Sockpuppets on Neoliberal Society Redux

by Henry Farrell on February 17, 2008

Or how I can’t resist linking to Lee Siegel complaining on _The Daily Show_ about how the market is making the Internets into teh Stupid.



auderey 02.17.08 at 3:31 pm

“if you give up your identity, the language gets corrupted”

really? commenting anonymously causes people to lose their linguistic ability?



peter ramus 02.17.08 at 4:16 pm

That’s really some turtleneck he’s sporting. Makes up for his lack of an emoticon, I suppose.

What kind of rejoinder is, “I don’t have an emoticon,” anyway?


Seth Finkelstein 02.17.08 at 4:22 pm

Oh, c’mon. He didn’t say anything that many people haven’t already said at length. Especially the point that anonymous chatters tend to be nastier than people who have their real names attached to what they say. Don’t pretend he said something absurd when it is in fact mundane.


Sumana Harihareswara 02.17.08 at 5:36 pm

I was REALLY hoping Stewart would call him out on his personal experience as a sockpuppet. Argh and oh well.


Walt 02.17.08 at 5:51 pm

Seth: The sole reason it’s novel is that it’s Lee Siegel who’s saying it. Siegal is notorious for his posting under pseudonyms on the Internet.


Righteous Bubba 02.17.08 at 5:54 pm

Siegal is notorious for his posting under pseudonyms on the Internet.

…in praise of the genius of Lee Siegel.


Seth Finkelstein 02.17.08 at 6:20 pm

walt: Ah, thanks. I didn’t have that bit of cultural background.


josh 02.17.08 at 7:39 pm

And, while we’re on the subject of Lee Siegel, let’s not forget his affecting reflections on his regrets that he didn’t sleep with a teenage Uma Thurman when he was tutoring her …
Yeah, not really related to anything that he says here. But I’m always surprised that despite his past statements, Siegel seems to have no trouble being taken seriously as a Weighty Cultural Critic; and feel impelled to point out what an enormous wanker he’s been (oops, there’re those internets, undermining civility …)


F 02.17.08 at 8:01 pm

I found his appearance on the Daily Show interesting because he brings up important points, even though he expressed them poorly. I was aware of the background here and expected not to like him, but I found myself pitying him instead for being in over his head.


F 02.17.08 at 8:02 pm

Oh, and maybe this is wrong, but when I first read comment 8, I saw “torturing” instead of “tutoring”.


geo 02.18.08 at 3:34 am

Haven’t read Siegel’s book, though I’m sympathetic to his argument, as I understand it. For what it’s worth, the locus classicus of this viewpoint is Sven Birkerts’s great essay, “Into the Electronic Millennium” (, further elaborated in his The Gutenberg Elegies.


nick s 02.18.08 at 7:30 am

Siegel turned his sockpuppetry into a book deal. He deserves to spend the next year having random passers-by whack him across the head with oily fish. Fucking pseud.


rea 02.18.08 at 3:54 pm

when I first read comment 8, I saw “torturing” instead of “tutoring”

Siegel’s regret was that he didn’t sleep with the teenage Uma Thurman, so “tutoring” rather than “torturing” is the correct word.


robd 02.18.08 at 6:37 pm

I don’t understand why he laments
the lack of face-to-face communication
and then wrties a BOOK about it…


Mold 02.19.08 at 4:02 pm

I loathe the trolls, censoring moderators, sockpuppets, and village idiots that populate the Intertubes. I love the free exchange of ideas that are not predicated on education, social status, or wealth.


Respectful Dissent 02.20.08 at 4:03 am

I don’t “read” on a screen, I “watch words”? Does anyone have any idea what he means, and why does he get money from anyone, anywhere?


sonja 02.22.08 at 12:57 pm

“There is good porn and bad porn… I guess” (what an arse)

“I hope my book will start this conversation” – my gawdess, the conversation started years ago. And Doris Lessing made more sense on the topic in her Nobel acceptance (and got a lot of flak for it, too!)

Respectful Dissent @16: you said it!

Who *is* this clown?

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