Henry David Thoreau On Facebook
Thoreau finished his dinner soon after moving to his cabin on Walden Pond – fried rat, wild cat, roots, berries, raw fish, mushrooms – and he sat down to record the meal. He wanted to share the experience of living alone at Walden Pond, to demonstrate to himself and the world that he could live near nature, make his own decisions, shed some of the fears and restrictions of society, live a life of self-determination. He saw his page as a living “Walden.” When he finished eating, he clicked on the “Publish to Facebook” button and went outside to gaze at the stars, stretch and relieve himself in the woods.
Thoreau, committed to a life of simplicity and very little use of technology, was at first reluctant to bring a computer into his tiny cabin, or to get a Facebook Page. He didn’t like the Internet, and had refused to do his banking online. Of course, he had no money, so that wasn’t a huge sacrifice. But he really disliked social media, the idea of all these strangers coming into his life. Writers should work alone, be mysterious, he complained. He didn’t want to meet his friends from childhood, and he hated the idea of e-mail. His publisher persuaded him that waldenpond.com would help him market “Walden Pond,” and sell more copies of this dubious project to people who did not want to live on a pond in the dark and hunt and cook for themselves. You know, his editor said, brand yourself.
When Thoreau came inside after swimming naked in the pond, and capturing a frog for dinner, he was surprised to see more than 100 comments on his Facebook posting. “Fried rat!,” said one comment, “you better get yourself to a doctor now. You will have parasites and worms in the morning.” There were more than 20 comments from animal lovers horrified that he had eaten a cat...
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