Coercion: Why We Listen to What ‘They’ Say
by Douglas Rushkoff
An exclusive excerpt from Douglas Rushkoff’s book, Coercion, published in 1999 by Riverhead Books.
Published: October 01, 1999
I really believed the Internet could put an end to coercion.
This was back in 1988, when I was still getting laughed at for suggesting that someday nearly everyone would be using e-mail on a daily basis. My first book on cyberculture was canceled in 1992 because the publisher felt that the Internet would be a passing fad, “like CB radio,” an editor explained. Two years later, the book was finally released, but even then the Internet was considered a relatively minor countercultural phenomenon — just some weirdos in San Francisco playing around with computers because they couldn’t make friends.
What I knew for sure back then was that the Internet would somehow irrevocably change the way we relate to our media, and to one another. Early signs showed that the change would be immensely positive. People would finally have a medium for communicating freely with one another, instead of merely absorbing the messages of advertisers. At least I was right about the first part.