Lately, social media has been bothering me. The concept more than the actual transmitters.
The core of my antipathy for Facebook and other social media is the way that it resembles a shouting match. Or rather a a hundred different protests and marches blended together with people waving banners and playing media clips which try (and succeed!) to dumb down any issue to something even a macro cephalic mineral/human hybrid with severe learning disabilities can understand. Dumb was the important word in the above sentence.
People – people I know, and often love in real life – are turning themselves into conveyors of ridiculous propaganda which only serves one purpose – to generate revenue for sites which feed off of the division we are causing in our own lives.
Sometimes people complain that social media sites, like Facebook, are akin to amateur exhibitionist emotion porn, but to me that is a good thing – and I’ll tell you why.
How often have you had a discussion in real life and somebody throws a book or newspaper on the table and tells you to read it – with no other comment?
Social media has become a vital tool in marketing – to some this is a horrible capitalist affront and they try to spread viral posts with pictures of kittens to counter this – but at the same time it has also become a prime hunting ground for scammers. But to me, the marketing – or rather the solicited marketing sent my way from companies I’ve actually “liked” – is welcome, I clicked that button knowing the consequences. The unsolicited adds are only slightly annoying, but what drives me insane are the people who get online and spend the first few hours of the day “liking” 100 different memes from the same page turning my newsfeed into a steady stream of propagandizing colors with inane ramblings printed in Comics font interlaced with pictures of assholes in Guy Fawkes masks (because blowing up democratic institutions to reinstate a tyrant to power is SO awesome) and half-assed political “comics” which are neither funny or manage add anything to any political debate waged by anybody over the age of twelve.
Or they share each and every news article they come across and then spur on a debate which never gets past the problem that 90% of the time; nobody bothers reading the actual article and just refers to any of the other comments or whatever was written by the sharer. Best of all, in relation to these “discussions”, is that nobody is bound by any form of decorum or social etiquette and if the privacy settings are right people who are “friends” with one or more will comment with their own fire-brand of stupidity turning what could have been a reasonable discussion into a 3rd grade word fight.
How often have you had a discussion in real life where somebody brings in an outsider to back their claims – or present their arguments for them?
Indeed it seems that the very foundations of rational, social and emotional discourse have been thrown out of the window in the pursuit of being right. Somebody not responding to your arguments by hailing your genius and casting away their own opinions? Simply reformulate what you have already written in the hopes that if they just understand your bias they will understand that you are right. Opinions are never opinions, certainly not yours, you alone know the gospel truth – and if a heathen, or heretic, is particularly belligerent in their misguided beliefs you can always tag in a choir of angels to agree and like your comments to make it seem like you are winning.
Social media is thus very much subject to social constructivism. Which obviously shouldn’t come as a big surprise.
We want to win the arguments, because we want to be right, to own the truth. Because that makes us feel better, because the people who profit off of the division which we have become constant transmitters off keep telling us that they know the TRUTHTM, that there isn’t two (or more) sides to every tale, that there is goodTM (them) and eeeeeevil (others), and that it is just THAT simple.
Why I don’t mind the social media click bait “which-something-are-you?/how-much-do-you-know?” BS and social media games.
The reason for the above is simple really – they are easily opted out off. I can just click a thing and perhaps another thing and I will never be bothered by how bored you are at any given time (which is the only thing there is to truly learn from those tests) it really isn’t that hard.
Frankly much of the griping that people usually make about social media, I disagree with. I WANT to know how your baby is doing and how your life’s story is playing out, not because of some voyeuristic perversion (much) but because the people in my life, even those who I’ve lost touch with over the years are still fascinating and important to me. I want to share the goings-on in my life because I hope you still find me interesting.
If I want a face-to-face discussion about politics or religion which then turns into a muddied shouting match where complete strangers weigh in with their opinions, I’ll call you up tell you which bar to meet me at and get drunk with you. I don’t need to spend a day and a half tapping away at a greasy phone without the added bonus of getting drunk.
Social media lets people stay in touch, even when they live far apart and their lives have gone their separate paths – it allows for people to come together, but more often than not it’s just used by divisive pricks who want our precious Internet traffic to make a buck and further themselves.
It’s not just that it makes people block and “unfollow” each other to avoid the strain of being annoyed by these people daily which is so awful; it’s the way that now we are always on. A billion bored, opinionated morons who cannot help but look at their laptops or phones every twenty seconds.
Opting out of “always-on”
In the end I have decided to do the above. I started off by turning off the various notifications to ensure that my e-mail wasn’t spammed by social media, and having caught my breath for the first time in years I went a step further and deleted the Facebook app from my phone – freeing my of the tyranny my bad manners and boredom had shackled me with. Because it is nobody else’s fault that social media is annoying and divisive other than the people who use it. WE have to show people, even people who aren’t an immediate physical threat, the same amount of respect we would like from them. WE have to stop before hitting that like and share button for another bogus “give-away” (it’s always 200 new something with broken seals, huh?) or what-ever and stop and think “is this necessary?”. Perhaps we should even consider if we have a persons current phone number to give them a call and let them know that “Hey, I went the extra inch and a half, happy birthday”, rather than chiming in with a hasty and mistyped “haopy birtday m8” on their Facebook wall (which I’m not sure it’s even called anymore) just because we were reminded and subsequently guilt-tripped into arbitrarily wish them a happy something. Nobody is keeping score. Social media doesn’t really matter, a sentence with your picture attached to it isn’t as weighty as the sound of your voice or showing up in person.
I’m not trying to say that I’m a better person because I deleted an app – I’m just a guy who had enough of unfollowing the lives of close friends and family because their proselytizing at any and all times seemed in my face, and was because I was always-on.