…the reason metadata so perfectly personifies our present age: meta(data) has neither the ability nor the need to listen in on our conversations. Similarly, public dialogue has devolved. People are “communicating” more and more via Twitter and Instagram, text and e-mail, all the while complaining about the fact that these very modes of communication don’t allow for nuance, humor or subtlety.
It’s as if the air quotes people have so often hung around everything they do and say, alerting others to our mutual knowier-than-thou attitude, have run out of air. The quotes no longer have any sarcastic lightness to them. The quotation marks that once seemed like bookends on otherwise benign commentary have become hooks emphasizing the heaviness of what’s contained between them.
Devon McCann Jackson, “‘Welcome to the Age of Heavy Meta’”, The New York Times Magazine (6 October 2013), 53.