Scraping the Social: “We are unknown to ourselves—and with good reason.” Friedrich Nietzsche—“Even the retards are starting to figure it out.” (comment)—“In data we trust.” Priceonomics—“The Internet fails to scale gracefully.” Chris Ellis—“I want to be surprised by my own bot”—“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen—“Just did my sheepish biannual LinkedIn visit, which felt too much like my sheepish biannual sweeping of dry cleaner hangers into the bin.” Dayo Olopade—Organic Reach Technologies (company)—“It’s not a pilot study. It’s small batch artisanal data.” @AcademicsSay—“No Reply” The Beatles—“A Facebook-Op occurs when one takes a photo just to upload it to Facebook later.” Urban Dictionary—“If you start to think that people are awful, you can always sign on to Twitter. Get some further proof. Then go on about your day.” Nein—“The right people can work around a bad technology, but the wrong people will mess up even a good one.” Kentaro Toyama—“My secrets won’t make you happier.” Amalia Ulman—“You can wake up now, the universe has ended.” Jim Stark—“Stop treating internet like it’s a different thing and start focusing on what you actually want your society to look like. We have to fix society, before we can fix the internet.” Peter Sunde—“We may be decentralised and disagree on a lot of topics amongst ourselves, but operations are always carefully coordinated.” Anonymous—#Apply: The same boiling water that softens potatoes, hardens eggs—“Insults from complete strangers. This is the true promise of social media.” Neil—“How valuable is reputation if any idiot off the street can rate me?” #peeple—Social media or “how to turn our thoughts violently towards the present as it is” (Stuart Hall)—“Man is the master of contradictions.” Thomas Mann.
Contradictory consciousness-management has superseded social anxiety about Bad Faith. This has long been the thesis of Slavoj Žižek. Let’s work on this thesis and take seriously the cynical statement “They know what they do, but they do it anyway” and apply this to social media. There is no longer a need to investigate the potential of “new media” and deconstruct their intentions. The internet has reached its hegemonic stage. In previous decades it was premature to associate intensive 24/7 usage by millions with deep structures such as the (sub)conscious. Now that we live fully in social media times, it has become pertinent to do precisely that: link techne with psyche.
The revelations of Edward Snowden arrived long after our daily surf-and-swap routines had become firmly entrenched. We know we’re watched by surveillance systems but who can honesty claim to constantly be aware of them? Artistic masks are promoted as protective face shields—yet who wears them? The internet may be broken, as the phrase goes (and IT engineers have reached a consensus about this troubling analysis), but this cannot be said of social media. Like Snowden’s revelations, Sherry Turkle’s evidence about smartphones inhibiting one’s empathy and ability to enjoy the virtues of solitude have arrived late in the social media game. How hard has it become to confront offline boredom? It’s a straight-up torture.
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