Monday, September 13, 2021

Michael Benton: Social media is superficial, only if we let it be

Social media is superficial, only if we let it be.

There was a small time when the ability to communicate with people across vast spaces was a revolutionary thing. We were excited by the ability to engage with others in a way we never dreamed was possible. It was a moment when it seemed the world was going to tip over, perhaps most vividly for me during the 1999 Seattle WTO Protests when we saw the power of the intersectional alliances that had never seemed possible happening in American streets and a burgeoning IndyMedia movement bringing people across the globe together in a way we have only recently begun to see happen again (the young people demanding change in the BLM, Sunrise, LGBTQ, etc... movements). Then 9/11 hit and suddenly our (privileged/limited) world order collapsed in reactionary fear. If only we had instead joined a sympathetic rest-of-the-world in solidarity instead of reactionary, warlike, ignorant fear toward 'others'. Afterward our culture, especially the mediasphere and our built environments, began to collapse into a state of corporate control and political paranoia. I think of that earlier time with nostalgia - both for the dream (it obviously was a fantasy if it collapsed so easily) of what could have been and the sense of immense loss. The world was literally lined up in support of America at that moment and we could have made it a moment of coming together to heal/commune/organize. Our worlds became privatized, locked down, and information began to be controlled again... literally became the "internet of things" instead of what we hoped would be a burgeoning forum of ideas and creativity. At the same time this dominant flow of controlled information became a part of our lives in a way that we never experienced before. When we woke up, for some never waking up, until we went to asleep, and for others never being able to sleep soundly - even if we are not active participants in that mediasphere (because those around us are and none of us are complete hermits).

I don't know what my point is...... just thinking because I am conscious.

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