The fast eat the slow, the rich eat the fast. Or, the moral economy of Thomas Friedman’s digital illiteracy

I thought this was an interesting extract from Imperial Messenger concerning Thomas Friedman’s advocacy of a digital imperative (‘get-wired-or-die’) which he himself is insulated from. As Belén Fernández writes on loc 668:

Quoted in Foreign Policy as saying “I talk the talk of technology, but I don’t walk the walk,” Friedman elsewhere admits to not knowing how to program his VCR, and announces to the graduating class of Williams College in 2005: “And don’t leave me a [mobile phone] message, because I still don’t know how to retrieve them and I have no intention of learning.” That Friedman is exempt from the get-wired-or-die options he bestows on the rest of the world, with the accompanying warning that “the fast eat the slow,” is thus clear. What is not clear is how he feels entitled to complain about the effects of the very technological ubiquity he has demanded.

Technology isn’t the only thing elites normatively demand adaptation to while remaining insulated from. But it is one of the most striking and it would be an interesting exercise to compile other examples of this. The obvious one that comes to mind are social media executives sending their children to traditional schools and preventing them from using social media.