The topic of social media’s role in the contemporary world has been recurring this week between myself and several friends and peers. What was once a mystical new way to engage with friends has taken a horrific turn down a path many wish never to return. Amidst the barrage of unwanted life updates, agenda-pushing news fabrications, multilevel marketing schemes, and an entire generation being raised by it, it’s no wonder many twenty and thirty-somethings find themselves feeling increasingly more isolated in the communal online spaces we once could call home.
One of the primary and most obvious criticisms of social media is that it often times will lead us down the path of least resistance. Every discernible metric has been cross-examined to determine what the most convenient way for us to engage with it is. The problem with convenient all-inclusive strategies like this is that they generally tend to get more diluted (dumber) as more and more people get involved. Even something as simple as writing a positive thought suddenly became too much effort for the things we “liked.” The thoughts in our head were no longer important. What was important to those pulling the strings wasn’t the thoughts in our heads, it was the emotions they were manifesting themselves from. So we simplified our ability to even react to/engage with content in the most trite way imaginable:
- Do I like this?
- Do I love/support this?
- Does this make me laugh?
- Do I think this is cool?
- Does this make me sad?
- Does this make me angry?
They are the “comedy and tragedy” masks of a generation too afraid to show their true face, and who couldn’t look themselves in the eye, even if they did. The oversimplification, convenience, and false satisfaction of these reactions has left only a handful of us willing to reply and engage to content online. Typically it’s the most outraged who will strike first, if at all. Facebook is even kind enough to tell us which reactions are most common for each piece of content, lest I decide for myself. The greatest problem of social media is that the speed of content often times transcends our ability to communicate in return. For those looking for the engagement they once felt they had, perhaps it is a good time to take a step back. Quick communication may be the first step into a dystopian future, but it will not be the last.
For anyone willing to jump ship (again, perhaps) from social media, I’d recommend checking out Rafael Anton Irisarri’s A Fragile Geography when you get a chance. Underneath the tumultuous pillars of sound is something incredibly beautiful and unique – to hear it we simply need to listen through the noise.