When Facebook switched on just over a decade ago, a friend described the shiny, newly minted social media platform as being like a great big cocktail party where one could drift in and out of conversations (drink in hand no doubt) meet new people, renew old acquaintances, and share ideas and information. It didn’t take too long before I started thinking Facebook was more like Sid Caesar’s writers’ room where the writers screamed out their material in the hope of getting picked every time the old comedy kingpin Caesar popped his head in the room to see what was cooking. The big difference being these writers’ scripts were gold, whereas Facebook was mainly filled with dross like the endless loops of viral videos featuring pandas sneezing, men with bulging eyes, and cats getting all surprised when they’re tickled. Even our means of responding to this “wonderful content” was limited to just a “Like” button. There were no laughing/crying faces or other emojis back then.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s noble dream of meaningful interaction bringing people together was now but a cold caller’s White Pages. Then came Twitter which soon fell into a moronic inferno of abusive trolls who seemed to think the platform was solely invented to help them deal with ther anger management issues. Next was the empty hall of mirrors better known as Instagram and the utterly pointless connectivity of Linkedin which merely confirmed the deep nagging suspicion that being part of this group was like sending your resume to the mad cat lady down the road.
Now I’m sure for many many people social media’s a groove and a gas and has helped them successfully navigate their world and given them the belief they are somehow relevant to whatever it is that’s going on. Good. That’s fair. That’s really nice to hear. Still, let me hazard a guess that maybe for some—maybe just a disgruntled few—social media ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s very disappointing. And if all those reports that are always wheeled out every time some old school media outlet wants to score a point are true then social media platforms like Facebook, like Twitter, like whatever, haven’t made people happier, sunnier, calmer, more fun-loving peeps but more frustrated and lonely.
Now before y’all jump in and say but…but…but… etc. If one can see faults in Heaven then it ain’t perfect and maybe we can do something about it to make it better—but can that ever happen if we haven’t the means, the tools, to correct what is wrong?
But that’s just my two cents, you can keep the change.
Digital artist Mike Campau has also been wondering about our social media world and its effects. Campau is a highly respected and very successful digital artist who’s worked with a list of names more impressive than an award ceremony guest list. One of his recent projects is ANTISOCIAL which uses photography and CGI to ask questions about our social media world as he sez in his pitch:
Social Media is starting to get some pullback, and rightfully so. Each platform has its own problems, but all have had a large impact on society as a whole, both good and bad. Each image takes place in an empty parking lot which is a symbol of our singularly isolated posts but placed in a location where it can be easily seen by many.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Honey, The Smartphone Ate the Kids: Comic yet chilling illustrations of our social media world
This isn’t Happiness: The heartbreak, depression and empty sex of Modern Love