It is very easy to write of social media as a platform designed to leverage narcissism and invade cognitive surplus in order to generate profit – all under the guise of providing us with enhanced reach, connection, freedom, and power. It is also easy to write it off as a dehumanizing technology – forcing us to reduce our concept of person-hood and friendship so that it fits within the limitations of the software. However, social media only exists because we do. Without us it is just code. Empty. And unconscious.
So for all the negative arguments you could throw at social media we are the ones who actually breathe life into them. We are the ones at fault. Not the platform. Not the code. And in that context we are not without choice here. We are not without power. In fact we are in complete control. We do not have to fuel the machine with narcissism, mundane descriptions of trivial external events, or updates that are more for the sake of form than feeling. We can easily remove the pervasive view that people are just “its” online – simple objects to navigate around and leverage for whatever purpose we deem important at the time. We can make social media human. And it might be easier to do than we think.
We just have to be brave enough accept the risk, the vulnerability, and the nerve required for real conversation. Some advice from Jaron Lanier’s book ‘You Are Not A Gadget’ (2010, p. 21) on how to actually do this … “post a video once in a while that took you one hundred times more time to create than it takes to view, write a post or an update that took weeks of reflection before you heard the inner voice that it needed to come out, innovate and find a way to describe your internal state instead of meaningless peripheral events.”
Take the time to position yourself outside the relentless and fleeting white noise that is social media’s status quo.
Spiderbait. The Triffid. Brisbane. 26 │02 │2016.
July 01, 2020