Filling the Void - Capitalism, Emotion and Social Media

 Filling the Void by Marcus Gilroy-Ware 

Capitalism, emotion, and social media - it seemed an odd combination, but after reading this I can see the connections, and that has been both enlightening and disturbing.

"There is an awful lot invested in social media maintaining their perceptions as innocent, fun, social, and above all, harmless. We shouldn't be so sure." 

This book was published in 2017, and in the years since we have indeed learned it is not harmless, and surely not all innocent. But the author asks us now to consider not only the effect it's having on us, but also how we created the "void" that it fills, how we came to be psychologically ready to succumb to it no matter the eventual cost. 

"Rather than speculating about what it is that technology makes us feel or do, we would do well to start asking what it is in us that makes us find any given technology - or action within that technology such as 'liking' something - appealing". He suggests we are using social media to find something that is lacking in our lives, or simply to avoid those lives. "By allowing the user to encounter a stream of novel media stimuli from familiar sources, the timeline facilitates an easy way to feel something other than the emotions that the user would otherwise be experiencing at that moment in time"

This doesn't even scratch the surface of what he has to say. I could keep quoting - I think I highlighted half the book - but you'd do better to read it yourself. It's well written, citing many studies with dates and titles so you can check his stats yourself. He isn't trying to convince us not to use social media so much as to be aware that they are also using us. Social media companies are in business for profit, not our well-being no matter what their slogans may say, and "as the increasingly common saying about digital services goes, 'if it's free, you're the product'." 

It's an interesting perspective and an enlightening read.


Post a Comment