Sunday, March 08, 2015

We're all egomaniacs now

There can be little doubt that the advent of social media has fundamentally changed the way the vast majority of us live - something that this brilliant article from Jacob Silverman underlines. Not that it wasn't an uncomfortable read - I kept recognising myself and wincing.

Take, for instance, the reference to so-called "Facebook Eye", the phenomenon by which we are "always looking for moments where the ephemeral blur of lived experience might best be translated into a Facebook post; one that will draw the most comments and ‘likes’". That sounds very familiar indeed - as does the nagging feeling that having "a witty or profound thought" but failing to record it publicly (on this site, on Facebook or on Twitter) somehow diminishes its value.

I also take photos as a way of "memorialising a moment" (or even "acquiring" it, to use the Susan Sontag term Silverman alludes to), but then usually share them on social media for the supposed benefit of others. The same goes for all of the reviews on this site - I might tell myself they effectively constitute a useful record of my own cultural life, one to which I can refer back, but that's disingenuous as they would do so even if they weren't put onto a public site. Ultimately, then, it's hard to disagree with Silverman's view: what can the urge to blog them be other than a narcissistic desire to come across as "cool or smart or well-informed"?

Silverman ventures that "Worst, perhaps, is the person whose frequent tweets and updates and posts earn no response at all. In the social-media age, to strive for visibility and not achieve it is a bitter defeat." So, y'know, why not leave me a few nice comments, just so I don't feel quite so bad?

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