Written by Lisa Galarneau | jeffbullas.com
It is a very sad fact about our world that it is most often through conflict and disaster that we discover the most about ourselves and our connections to others. I have felt this palpably in recent months and years as I’ve watched the ebb and flow of so many conversations, about things both mundane and monumental. The hardest is the desperation and shock of people in peril and the loved ones that worry about them. In the eye of these storms, social media emerges as a kind of curiosity: look at what people do! Tools are launched and then find their unique purpose. If the founders are lucky, maybe a global phenomenon. Anyone can have a voice (whether anyone listens is another matter). We can connect to people in many places. That’s our power of now.
Is social media about sociality, or something else entirely?
Social media is real-time. It’s raw. It’s usually un-edited and un-flltered. It asks us to make our own decisions about which news to follow, about which voices to promote, and which to marginalize. The editors of these new media are mostly individuals, each deciding what is relevant or meaningful. Too frequently they forget to think about the audiences they might draw, and instead create from their own passions and inspirations. This is slightly what makes it special in a culture so inundated with well-crafted brand messages from corporations and governments alike. Social media can allow the authenticity and connection that we sometimes feel are missing from our heavy-duty lives. Perhaps even more importantly, social media allows us to connect for a huge variety of reasons, in sometimes quite unexpected ways.
One of my favorite things about the Internet is my ability to connect with friends I have collected all over the world. I’m one of those people who moves rather a lot. A lot of us do. One of my grandmothers, born in 1904, moved to California in the 1920s and used to stay in touch with her Kansas relatives via long chain letters that were passed from person to person. Each person in the chain read the letters from everyone else, then added their own missive, and the whole process started again. I tried reading one or two of the letters as a teenager, but they were so full of small, relevant-only-to-the-people-involved details that I quickly put them aside. Such is also the downside of social media.
A recent meme in cyborg anthropology is a notion called ‘ambient intimacy’. It refers to a murky soup of connections that we all maintain without paying a whole lot of explicit attention to any of them. It’s just like scanning headlines in your favorite newspaper (digital or otherwise), like a background process of collecting small bits of information about people’s lives. Details that no one thinks to share outside of spouses and family are now a personal history viewable by a mish-mash of family, friends, colleagues, ‘Internet friends’, acquaintances and people that I might know. If only I could resolve their digital identity to a physical one. Out in the world I find that I notice when people are making eye contact with me, so accustomed am I that everyone walks with eyes cast down, focused on some kind of screen.
This is not a judgment on technology, nor a denial of its potential… I would lump these problems into the category of ‘unintended consequences’. Social media is ‘sandbox’ software, a category that includes a range of experiences that are highly emergent in nature (think a video game like the Sims vs. games that explicitly guide the player through a narrative). There are connections and reconnections, supportive ideas and divisive ones. There are echo chambers of the self-selecting and selected-for-you varieties. Like a city, the Internet has good neighborhoods and bad ones, vandals and gadflies and crazies, and the most beautiful examples of community that many of us have seen.
If we are all so connected, why don’t I feel connected?… Leer más “5 Insights On The Future Of Social Media | jeffbullas.com”