News Of The Tweet: The Zombification Of Social Media

Death, glad-handing and inerplanetary probes


By Seb Kemp

The above link to an article by @silvermanjacob points out an unforeseen problem with social media: that is, the niceness epidemic. In his article, Silverman says that amiability and glad-handing have besieged the literary critic culture due to social media accountability. Part of what he says is that once we can follow artists lives and see them as really nice and genuine people, it becomes hard to critique their work. We see the person – or the social media caricature that acts as the front for people – instead of their work.

Social media allows us discourse to critique everything and anything, but it also disables us from saying everything because of the repercussions of standing against the tide of popular opinion. This is partly because social media has blurred who we are professionally and personally. If someone decides to say anything negative towards you via social media because of something you did at work (the book reviewer) it can follow you home when you log onto your social media networks.

Equally, if we are nice people on social media networks and we become good at playing the social media game, does that improve our professional standing?

On a totally different intellectual level but still telling of social media, Vice.com took a look back, with not-so-rose-tainted lenses, at the cult of Scene Queens. Scene Queens are (or were) girls who dressed up weird and did nothing but be really good at MySpace. It provided them with an identity, a degree of fame, and some income. But it also provided their detractors with a direct line into the hate hole.

Of course, MySpace went the way of Bebo. The internet is moving at hyperspeed and as it travels through imaginary space the way it presents itself is morphing and transforming. MySpace was revolutionary at the time, but became outdated and obsolete before long.

That got me thinking about dead social media sites. Not social media sites for dead people. For anyone unfamiliar with this, Dead Soc.ial is a means for you and I to keep our social networking accounts active even after we pop our clogs. Messages and status updates are created and timed to post so zombie social media caricatures can still trudge on.

Anyway, I was thinking about social media sites that died and I came across this Ted Talk by a self-confessed hipster from Vancouver.

About four minutes in he raises a very pertinent point, “if a photo is not ‘Liked’ on Facebook does it really exist?”

And what the very shrewd hipster goes on to discuss is how Web 2.0 is fostering and creating a situation of superficiality. It is so easy to click ‘Like’ something that sometimes we ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ stuff that we don’t really like. More so, the internet allows us to just throw out comments or opinions in rapid fire bursts that don’t mean anything, or are perhaps a little unconsidered. Just a look through any mountain bike site’s forum or comment field will present a million examples.

The difference, perhaps, is that mountain bike sites are often dumping zones for garbage and bile; Spit and piss; hate and keyboard bitterness.

Anyway, please take the time to watch the video above because what you will see is a very common sense approach to social media. Brad Peppinck, the hipster in question, believes social media is not about the users, rather it’s about the technology – what technology can we make, rather than what we can make technology do. Our lives are played out on-line so we need to think about bringing our lives on-line and bringing our on-line life off-line. Ignore the superficiality and share ideas.

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