Monday, November 01, 2010

Social media is to knowledge what fast food is to nutrition

"Social media" is the term we now apply to technology platforms and the networks of people created on them. Social media made mass communication universally accessible. This means that any moron with a smart phone and a bit of software installed on it can deliver their "thoughts" to a broad audience at the push of a button, a click of a mouse, or a tap on a touchscreen. In essence (highlighting the two terms in italics):

Broadcasting moronisms has never been easier.

Once upon a time, a faster machinegun decided which army could kill more people in less time and win it a battle decisively. Then the drawn-out stalemated trench warfares of World War I demonstrated to us what happens when machineguns became universally accessible. When every army and its grunts are able to spray lead at 700 rounds per minute at their enemy, you know it is time to invent a better approach to winning a war.

What is interesting about the rise of "social media" is that it has supposedly "empowered" the average individual to speak her mind. The trouble is that this "empowerment" is in the hands of that individual and a billion-odd others. So like the proverbial machineguns in early Twentieth Century shooting battles, the social landscape mashed up with the noise emanating from "social media" metaphorically looks a bit like the landscape of a typical World War I battlefield -- a gray tragic wasteland pockmarked by foxholes and trenches.

In today's world where "social media" is interwoven into the minutiae of our lives, we are much like those poor British Tommies crouching in their trenches under the din of constant machinegun fire overhead. Every one of us is similarly hunched over our laptops and smartphones in a stupor, being drip-fed rubbish by the data "feeds" continuously churned out by our Facebook and Twitter accounts. The only difference is that while the World War I Tommy kept his head down to keep it from being shot off, the 21st Century social media warrior is keeping her eyes peeled lest she "misses out" on the latest dirt slung by the moron of the moment -- literally.

Whereas in the past, we opened our minds in a conscious effort to absorb insightful knowledge, today our minds are a sad sub-conscious dumpsite for mere data -- those waste products of the modern technologies that transfix us and the modern "social networks" that bind us today.

8 comments:

  1. This is a great thing to think about...

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  2. Man, you must be reading my mind. Social media epitomizes Marshall McLuhan's old aphorism about "The medium is the message" -- an overwhelming, widespread mass hallucination that "volume" is an acceptable substitute for "relevance" and "quality."

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  3. One hour spent browsing the Net versus one hour spent reading a good book. Which activity do we come out of a bit smarter? No-brainer there. :-)

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  4. I see irony in this blog post...

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  5. like i care if the wine in vietnam sucks

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  6. I see someone who doesn't actually know the definition of irony.

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  7. Just because I can eat all the food in a buffet does not mean I have to pig out.

    Moreover, it also boils down to choice - should I eat the transfat carb laden junk? or should I go for the good carbs, low transfat with omega proteins.

    High speed broadband dedicated to watching WOWOWEE reruns all day - isn't exactly the path to enlightenment.

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  8. Without getting political, there has been a lot of buzz on the Web on Internet restrictions and censorship in China, especially after Google threatened to pull the plug last year, find about the the current conditions there now in 2011 from a social media blogger's prespective.

    Read the full blog post @ http://bit.ly/glL4tN

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