Beast with scarce Beauty
This post takes a mostly clear stand and represents a lot of original thinking, even if this is not backed up by the support of citations.
- The stand is “mostly” clear because the wording of the conclusion (that all the negatives are actually needed) seems to contradict the title and the point about the loss of quality (in the preceding paragraph).
- If the “tiresome repetitiveness and unimaginative laziness, and that that is exactly what we need right now” is actually the main point of this essay, it needs to be developed – beyond the mere anecdotal point in paragraph two about ‘some people’ finding comfort in step dancing
- The essay could also stand to be edited for word economy and clarity
- Finally, as per the implications of the assignment prompt (cf. range https://interculturalextraneity.com/important/about#week9), this post is missing at least one more reference to the course material studied this semester https://interculturalextraneity.com/important/about#material
This is a final individual post on the risks of and ingenuity in social media.
It doesn’t come as a surprise anymore seeing how quickly technology is developing and how far it has come. It seems that that we are welcomed, almost daily, by some new social media update, or perhaps a cool hack that will undoubtedly make our lives easier somehow. But as it happens, it is often the case that it’s something that we didn’t need in the first place. Nonetheless, the social media gain millions and millions of new users every year. Not only that they are gaining new users, but the already existing ones are creating more accounts. According to the Social Media Benchmark Report 2020, the average user has more than 8 accounts on different social media platforms, which poses a question – is all this attention that social media are getting well-deserved? Or could it be that we are too caught up in the thrill of it that we fail to see the bad that comes with it?
Technology has proven itself useful, there is no denying that. Whether you are a student in the middle of a pandemic, an entrepreneur struggling to keep your business afloat, or a careless teenager finding ways to kill time. However, going as far as to say that it is full of creative and imaginative content is a bit far-stretched. Of course, social media is a perfect place to show off your talents and skills to a much wider audience. Moreover, social media does not discriminate. It allows you to present your audience with literally anything – from make-up transformation and creative embroidery to something as ridiculous as cutting cheese. My colleagues perfectly summed up the very essence of social media, “[p]eople often need a safe space to vent and show their true colours without any judgement or discrimination, and social media in its early stages was that place, but nowadays it has become a place where people seek acceptance and approval of others trying to keep up with the latest trends.” (SAK, 2020), but seeing how much it has changes, can we really talk about ingenuity in social media if almost everything, essentially, boils down to following certain trends? Not only are those trends overrunning the world, but people are so fixated on accomplishing certain goals set by a random stranger that they forget that not everybody in their environment are fit to see a particular type of content. However, the case can be made for the opposite side as well. Our lives have become so fast-paced and busy that sometimes mindless scrolling through a pile of silly content is exactly what we need. The world is a dark place, and sometimes focusing on trivial things can be a great way to take care of our wellbeing. So seeing a dozen exactly the same three-step “dance” in a row can be a desperately needed remedy for some.
Nonetheless, we do have to consider the damage that social media are doing to our everyday lives. As I mentioned before, an average social media user has several different accounts, and that is not because we can’t get enough of it but because we need to set certain boundaries online. As Carr put is so excellently, “[w]e’re happier as character actors than as stars.” (2020) because we realize that not every single post we make is meant to be seen by everyone. We simply need to have room to freely be every version of ourselves. And it doesn’t mean that we are pretending to be something we’re not or that we are deceiving anyone. It’s just in human nature to maintain different identities with different people either based on how comfortable you feel with a person or the level of professionalism you wish to preserve. But let’s not forget about all the threats that we are exposed to by sharing something on social media. The loss of privacy being one of them. In his article, Doctorow pointed out that we disregard our personal information for the sake of getting the services that social media, and online world in general, provides us (2012). And even though there has been attempts to solve this issue, such as the “Connect the Dots” app that he mentioned, we are still at the losing end of this “privacy bargain” (Doctorow, 2012), as he put it, and it seems that it will stay way for the unforeseeable future.
Unfortunately, the context collapse and threat to our personal data are only some of the consequences of this “upgrade” of our lives. People are now more creative than ever with so much free time on their hands. But since the pool is growing bigger and bigger, we are dealing with the “information glut” (Postman, 1990), which presents a whole new issue. Not only that there is so much meaningless and irrelevant content out there, but that there is simply too much of it to handle. In fact, 69, 444 million posts are uploaded every minute on Instagram alone (Schultz, 2019), which is incomprehensibly large amount. We have more options available today in terms of choosing the content that we wish to be exposed to, or choosing with whom we want to share any particular information. But this can be helpful only up to a certain point. Because now we have an option to link multiple social media accounts, it has become difficult to escape from certain type or category of content. For example, you can post pretty much anything simultaneously on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter just by clicking one button. So it is virtually impossible to avoid mixing different types of content, or the audiences for which your own content is intended. It has become so overwhelmingly difficult to keep running away and categorizing, therefore, we are consequently left with a mess we don’t know what to make out of. Carr defined the content collapse on his blog as “[blurring] traditional distinctions among once distinct types of information” (2020). However, the mere fact that the content is mixing together is not our biggest issue but that, as he pointed out, “it homogenizes that information as well as our response to it” (Carr, 2020). So it’s not only that our social media identities are slowly merging into one, but that we, as real-life people, are struggling to successfully balance every aspect of our life which are usually kept separate, and are, thus, becoming more flat.
It is true that due to the current situation, there are more people who turn to social media platforms for various reasons, but let’s not fool ourselves – that number was never small to begin with. Sure, it provides us with seemingly endless possibilities to express ourselves in any way imaginable, or to at least admire the others. But it also blurs our vision and prevents us from seeing the bigger picture. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic praises technology for “[lifting] the wall between creators and the public”, and, by doing so, encouraging many to use this opportunity and create something, but he also makes a point of how quantity doesn’t always mean quality (2015). He pointed out that despite the fact that we are living in the age when any information is just a few clicks away, “the curious mind is forced to ignore as much of the available data as it can, in order to consume only what is nutritious” (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2015), which means that content actually worth finding is buried underneath the absurd amount of meaningless content. Numerous threats lurk on the Internet – from malicious people seeking to exploit young children to a risk of having your personal data stolen. But apart from them, we are faced with one just as dangerous – although it may not seem like it is – and that is losing ourselves.
Whether because it’s easier to live this way rather than resist it or because it’s something that you genuinely find enjoyable, “the fishhook is getting embedded deeper into … our individual lives…” (Hurst, 2020). And as if that wasn’t enough on its own, we also stretch ourselves too thin trying to keep in touch with everything and by doing so we, consciously or not, are paying too much attention to things that don’t deserve it and are completely disregarding the ones that do. Therefore, even if there is some ingenuity in this abyss that the social media has become, it may go unnoticed due to the fact that, unfortunately, majority of content now comprises of tiresome repetitiveness and unimaginative laziness. It could be that we have become too numb to notice, but we are indeed paying the price for that right now. How can we ever expect to produce something creative with all the noise and chaos that social media is causing?
This post, as well as any other of my posts on this site, may be used for research purposes.
• Carr, N. (2020, January 13). From context collapse to content collapse. Rough Type. http://www.roughtype.com/?p=8724
• Chamorro-Premuzi, T. (2015, Jun 18). Is technology making us more creative?. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/jun/18/technology-creative-creativity-web-content
• Cheeseman. [
russian_cheeseman666]. ♥️👋🌹 #cheeseman [Video]. TikTok. <a href=”https://www.tiktok.com/russian_cheeseman666/video/6901910675430460673?lang=en”>https://www.tiktok.com/@russian_cheeseman666/video/6901910675430460673?lang=en
• Doctorow, C. (2012, June 6). The Curious Case of Internet Privacy. MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/2012/06/06/19572/the-curious-case-of-internet-privacy/
• Hurst, M. (2020, February 12). The not so candid cameras. The Culture Crash. https://www.theculturecrush.com/feature/not-so-candid-camera
• Omnicore. (2020, May 22). 70+ Social Media Statistics you need to know in 2020 [Updated]. https://www.omnicoreagency.com/social-media-statistics/
• Postman, N. (1990). Informing ourselves to death. [Online video resource]. Open Mind e1095, archive.org. https://archive.org/details/openmind_ep1095/openmind_ep1095.mpg
• SAK. (2020, October 26). Do your social media account represent who you really are? / Discussion on week 3 homework. [Online forum post]. Intercultural Extraneity Forum. http://interculturalextraneity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=8
• Schultz, J. (2019, August 6). How Much Data is Created on the Internet Each Day?. Micro Focus Blog. https://blog.microfocus.com/how-much-data-is-created-on-the-internet-each-day/
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