Antisocial Media 

          It is no secret that, in both humans and animals, isolation gives rise to compulsion. Thus far, social media, the golden child of this proud new millennium, has illuminated the depths of loneliness that is the human experience. With the proliferation of web access and use, people are arguably less isolated than ever before in the history of our evolution. But let us consider the means of exchange, by which we attempt to mitigate our isolation. Let us discuss the context of communication–the sharing of thoughts and experience. 
          Social behavior has evolved by means of direct exchange and through person to person contact. It relies on an unquantifiable magnitude of conscious and subconscious cues that depend on oration, body language, facial expressions, cultural context, geographical location, social expectation and physical proximity. Each of these factors is a universe of their own and impact one another in infinite combination. Direct exchange is a nuanced and ever changing dynamic which evolved for the purpose of creating physical and emotional bonds-for the purpose of sharing what lies within our isolated, inner worlds. That is, direct exchange is a form of communion that allows us to collaboratively make sense of the world without by exploring the world within.

           It is important to make a distinction between direct exchange and indirect exchange. Direct exchange is centered on the intimacy of ones immediate surroundings. Expression is limited to the resources available at any given moment of exchange. And technology is not inherently incongruous to direct exchange. Technology, synthetic and analog, offers us many tools which are conducive to direct exchange. It can even accentuate the systems of expression that have cohesively empowered us since our earliest beginnings. Technology augments and reinvents the dynamics of expression realized in various genres of direct exchange–the visual arts, music, performance, oral and physical communication, literature, etc. Yet through the expansion of direct exchange, technology has created the opportunity for social exchange to stray further and further from direct person to contact. Although indirect exchange or sharing by means of a device, satisfies a semantic element of socialization, this method of communication strips away the more fundamental, and human element of social connection. What then is the caliper of the bond that is formed under such inhuman conditions? Alone within ourselves, we indulge in the empty delight of sharing with imaginary spectators, which may or may not partake in the exchange. 

          Sharing, in this way, has become a compulsion, due to our loneliness–our isolation. The devices, by which we express ourselves, are an addiction which takes conscious effort to avoid. And what does one truly share, if the recipient of such exchanges are but phantoms trapped between worlds? And what do we receive from these exchanges? We witness only the fabricated snapshots of others in their lives, and thus we hopelessly try to catch up by doing the same… the digital realm-the invisible, albeit vocal, spectators of social media. But this compulsive habit reflects an internal malaise that is salient in social media, such as Facebook, snapchat, etc. And as we look upon the endless book of faces and decontextualized videos, we drift further into an alien world-the emptiness within ourselves. 

 

Riding the bus

My phone dies

Frustrated 

I put the useless device back into my pocket

I look around

Heads down

No eyes 

Save for the old folks

blessed enough 

to have avoided this addiction. 

~ by antiwar12 on November 14, 2016.

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