After our class discussion, I wanted to explore further the ways Dubord’s writing connect to our relationship with media today. Specifically, I wanted to think more about the ways in which social media today turns us into the spectacle and the ways in which our use of social media alienates and separates us with the guise of uniting us.

I wonder if social media simply changed the ways we connect with each other, giving us new avenues for connection, or if it actually alienated us more from each other and ourselves. In class we talked about how ‘being’ turns into ‘having’ which turns into ‘being seen’. Our desire to be seen comes from the dissatisfaction with what we have (never enough) and how we look (never good enough). Social media allows us to create a more desirable image of who we are. One that resembles what we are fed in the media as being ‘good’. If we are so busy creating the image we feel we should project to the world then we won’t take the time to enjoy the present moment. We will only see our lives through the lens of an iPhone camera, or in thinking about the ways to tweet about what we are doing or seeing. This way, our lived experiences turn into spectacles themselves, even if the photo is not taken or posted. Just our thinking about our engagement with the world completely shifts. We, and our relationships with others, turn into spectacles, and our presenting a perfect image of ourselves keeps perpetuating others’ need to create theirs. Under the guise of connecting us all, is social media actually working to separate us? Detach us from out lives?

However, we know there is power in social media to educate and mobilize. The same platforms that are supposed to subdue the public are being co-opted to create action and knowledge. Social media requires our engagement, and can make us agents, and creators of content. It can be used to wake people up, to organize, to educate. I believe that social media does not inherently create this situation of alienation, but I believe it is the culture that is created around it. I guess media has always been a tool for those in power to enforce the status quo, and I guess people have always found ways of using these same tools to subvert the dominant narrative.

I do ask myself – at what point do we also become desensitized to the news or to subversive posts within social media? At what point do they simply become part of our newsfeed and the things we consume? There is a fine line here, and I am not entirely sure as to a definite answer.

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2 responses »

  1. bhedigan says:

    I absolutely agree with your analysis of social media and creating an image. It’s a logical explanation for why platforms like Facebook and Twitter and so popular. Both apps allow the user to cultivate a personalized image that they can then share with those around them (whether that be just friends and family, or the internet at large). I also agree with the isolating effect these ‘perfect images’ have. I’m not sure I have an answer to your closing question either, but I do know that feeds often function in a desensitizing manner. If we see something that displeases us, or we are disinterested in, it’s easy to scroll past and think no further on it. I think it’s an interesting conundrum, especially considering that many Facebook and Twitter users get their news from these social media sources.

  2. maddieglouner says:

    I also am in total agreement with your post. I think that social media has changed the way that we connect with each other in that we are more connected than ever, yet we have never been more out of touch. When I go into a restaurant and look at the people at the tables around me it is a rarity that there isn’t a phone on the table. Groups of people are together but fully engaged in their separate commodities-their cell phones in particular. Social media has allowed us to put out this image of ourselves that thousands of people can view and connect to and access-our engagement with the world truly has shifted.

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