What Went Wrong With… The Closed World Of Social Media?

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Social media was supposed to be a method of connecting the world, where people from all walks of life got together in order to discuss and share their thoughts and opinions. No longer were people from different parts of the world going to feel alone, hey, let’s all be part of a big international community of free-thinkers and debaters! Flash forward a decade or so and the end result is almost the exact opposite, most people don’t interact with anybody outside of their own social circle. If you regularly speak with someone in the real world then you also chat with them on social media, then slowly friends of friends extend your network, the only people you follow who you don’t personally know are celebrities and of course that annoying “follow for a follow” crowd.

Wasn’t social media supposed to be an international, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-faithed community? Instead people only follow others within their own demographic; a Christian doesn’t follow a Muslim, a Muslim doesn’t follow a Jew, a conservative doesn’t follow a liberal, a xenophobic chauvinist doesn’t follow someone from a different country, and a misogynist doesn’t follow a feminist. People only network with the kind of people they do in the real world, content is only shared by those who agree with others they know will agree, people exist in an online counterpart to their real-life, within an ignorant bubble.

With sites like Google and Facebook “encouraging” you to use your real-life credentials to register, social media easily becomes intertwined and correlative with life. For all the people who submit to these companies’ requests and place their actual name, picture, and location all over their profile, from that point onward, what choice do they have but to conform with their extended network? Many people feel uncomfortable airing or explaining an unorthodox opinion to their peer group but it was supposed to be different on social media. But since the very same people we know and converse with in our day-to-day life also make up our social network, most people are quick to obey their “friends”. What will Bob from work think if I say I’m against the war? What will my manager Jill think if I say I hate my job? The end result is an inhibited, repressed, and closed environment, you may as well be in the real world.

Social Media has failed on both counts; it’s rarely social and the media posted is hardly worthy of calling itself media, in fact over the past several years it’s slowly become a place of acknowledgement, approval and compliance, where people go to adulate or to seek adulation themselves. Is your mind ever expanded on any social media platform?

Go to any social media site or app and see the end result of this so-called social wonder. If you haven’t yet joined any of them, you have a few options, it all depends on what you want to do. The two “main” ones are:

  • Facebook, where you can tell the world any and everything about yourself so stalkers and intelligence organisations can spy on your whereabouts – I’m single, I’m not home, I’m snorting cocaine off a prostitute’s back, please don’t arrest me or tell my boss.
  • Twitter, where you can type 140 characters of conformity – There’s been a terror attack or a natural disaster so be sure to comply and say “you’re praying” for the victims, an emoji seems sincere, right?

There’s also a few more sites and apps to consider, depending on your social media goals:

  • Tumblr is where you can create a mood-board representative of your personality, a mood-board that nobody besides yourself will ever look at.
  • Pinterest is where you can sort all your digital junk. It’s predominantly where O.C.D. sufferers compartmentalise meaningless throwaway content into folders they’ll never get round to following through with.
  • Reddit is where nerds “discuss” their one-sided views behind people’s backs, posting topics only to endlessly reaffirm each other’s opinions.
  • Instagram and Snapchat are the two main apps for vain people; Instagram is for self-indulgent celebrities and people with no aptitude for Photography enabling them to hide their lack of talent with vignettes and filters, and Snapchat is a place for narcissistic selfies, where actual dogs cover the most unattractive parts of their face with “filters” like err… a dog. Both apps are there to satisfy one’s vanity, so people can revel in others telling them they’re beautiful.

Whatever form of social media you choose, each of these outlets have one thing in common, they lure people into creating isolated micro-communities within their chosen app or site. Like an updated ’80s High School movie, these social media companies happily place the jocks in one corner, the brains in another, and the socialites in the other. Social media is a creator of cliques, each thriving off the fact that they’re surrounded by like-minded people. Nobody wants to hear or see anything they don’t already “like” and so their timelines are filled with sympathetic encouragement for already formed ideas.

Because of people’s reliance on social media (especially for news and points of view) people find themselves in sheer bewilderment when a world event doesn’t comply with their own opinion. Because of this unwitting isolationism, people from both sides of the political divide find themselves dumbfounded; right-wing people are like “why are these people I usually ignore wanting rights?”, left-wing people are usually flabbergasted that right-wing ideas even exist, outraged at election results they couldn’t foresee coming. Social media is just many pockets of segregated communities who are then startled when an incident differs from their world view, they’re all astounded when a different opinion shatters their fragile closed community.

Now before I go on, I’m not saying this from atop my high horse, from some kind of moral high ground, I’m guilty of doing this myself; I only follow people I want to know more information from, if someone keeps pestering me I block them, someone follows me and I see one of their bigoted posts or anti-minority memes I block them. The difference is that I acknowledge this slow-forming isolation and I actively search for a pro-right-wing or pro-white topic or hashtag just to see what other people are thinking. Every now and again I seek out a racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic, or xenophobic point of view and let the misery wash over me. The shite I find might disgust me but at least I know what’s going on, and because of this I’m never surprised by a world event or a seething opinion.

Let’s face it, most people don’t want to hear from other people, especially people they know they won’t agree with. Most people don’t want the agro of countering someone who possesses an opinion that differs from theirs. Within social media this concept is compounded however, people exist in a blinkered, unconnected yet connected, detached online world. If someone says something we don’t like we banish them from our feed never to be heard from again. All this sounds very familiar, muting the opposition and suppressing ideas that don’t gel with ours, don’t our actions on social media sound a lot like a Dictatorship? A social media page is very much like fascism; everything in the page, nothing outside the page, nothing against the page.

So comrades, show your allegiance to this site by following it by email or Twitter or like its Facebook page, but if you find yourself disagreeing with this article or this website you’ll be blocked and exiled from dies gemeinschaft!


9 replies »

  1. Social media is an addiction connects with our base human instincts to be heard, seen and acknowledged. It is also a vehicle where some (not all) losers get to finally be heard and seen without having to take ownership of their behavior: They simply “click” and are gone after leaving a footprint. Complete waste of time that removes one from the real world, and perhaps that is the intent, as media manipulates.

  2. One point I’m sure your aware of but forgot to mention is the destruction of relationships and the fake likes/admiration. Nowadays those that are very active on social media expect you, their friend or follower, to kiss their ass 24/7 by liking and commenting on their posts no matter how dumb, vain or downright pointless. And if you don’t, well your a hater and you don’t exist to them. Its easy to turn a stranger or even an enemy into a friend on social media, all you have to is like and comment on a few of their posts. Many of your own real-life ‘friends’ and acquaintances have the same mentality. Online and offline, most people seem to react awkwardly when you don’t display a great interest in them.

    “Many people feel uncomfortable airing or explaining an unorthodox opinion to their peer group”

    This is especially true. I once had Facebook, and the more people I had in my network, the more I felt the need to censor myself to appease my entire network. Towards the end it felt like a virtual prison.

    I think what really took the genuineness out of social media was the ‘likes’ feature. And to have a post with no or little likes, well that is embarrassing. For every smart, meaningful or different post with 6-10 measly likes, there are a thousand idiotic posts (selfies or other stupidities) about nothing, with 100-1,000,000 likes and up.

    • I agree, people should air their genuine opinion and stop caring about what others think, if someone’s only motivation is to attain “likes” then they’re obsequious and shallow people.

      Also in addition to the “likes” issue, there are some sites with a “dislike/thumbs down” button which also gets abused by certain people. Say something against a popular topic for instance and a single fan will repeatedly dislike a post until it moves down in the rankings of relevance (this happens in some online forums and removes criticism from many boards).

      The whole system is corruptible and keeps genuine/meaningful opinions away from the collective consciousness.

  3. Have you seen this movie called Eighth Grade by Bo Burnham? Thought it would complement well with this article:

    The movie depicts social media used by the younger generation (post-millenials) as like a digital war of all against all, preening, pretending, and pontificating as much to themselves as to an anonymous audience and that social media only just adds unnecessary anxieties and complications along with having an unhealthy parasocial relationship with someone popular to this generation …

    Bo Burnham’s also another decent stand-up comedian as well who’s been brave in criticizing celebrity and pop culture in general. Thought you could check out some of his other cool stuff that he’s done so far. Here’s a video essay someone has made on him:

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