Book review - Cyburbia: The dangerous idea that's changing how we live and who we are, by James Harkin

James Harkin is right to berate internet obsessives for losing touch with who they are, but his argument takes on the tones of paranoia, argues Marcus Warren.

Cyburbia: The dangerous idea that's changing how we live and who we are
James Harkin
Little, Brown

Few people have a kind word to say about suburbia and, unlovely and unloved as it is, who can blame them? Acacia Avenue and the like are - it's all there in the etymology - sub urban; inferior, in other words. Venture out beyond the centre of our cities and you soon discover, as Gertrude Stein said of her birthplace, Oakland, California, 'that when you get there, there isn't any there there'.

Cyburbia applies these and other prejudices about this 'elsewhere' to the new world where many of us spend more and more of our lives: the internet. Online, as in the 'burbs, it argues, little people lead little lives, curtains twitch and neighbours swap tittle-tattle and disapprove of anyone who dares to be different. In one snobbish but hilarious image, the book even writes off bloggers en masse as 'bedroom bunkered pyjamadeen'.

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