Life at № 42
I’ve been reading Zygmunt Bauman’s thoughts on social media. Exceptionally interesting analysis. He says users: “…are simultaneously promoters of commodities and the commodities they promote. They are, at the same time, the merchandise and their marketing agents, the goods and their traveling salespersons.”
…We have to recast ourselves as commodities, that is, as products capable of drawing attention, and attracting demand and customers. That ‘s Facebook, that’s Twitter, and to a much lesser degree WordPress; at least regarding the blogs I read- but that’s because I’m interested in the exchange of ideas. There’s commoditization on WordPress as well, Askthebigot was a good example.
Bauman argues that society used to value and defend privacy. My sidenote to that is that privacy equalled (still does) safety.
In essence he says living in society required us to develop complex social skills. Much more complex than is required in the internet world where one can simply delete or block someone who they dislike or who even just says something that challenges their worldview. In that sense social media stunts personal development.
I don’t think one can really disagree with his position. In fact I think I’d take it even further. In making the self a commodity, people are often creating a parallel universe which is entirely disconnected from reality. Can you imagine someone putting on make-up that’s so extreme, they end up looking like an entirely different person?
I saw this picture flipping through a magazine in a waiting room the other day and was absolutely shocked. I honestly wouldn’t know the first girl and the made-up girl were the same person if I crossed them in the street. The made-up girl’s (a Kardashian) media presence is built around a face that she doesn’t have. What effect does that have on the individual’s mind? They either have to believe their own illusion and live in character all the time, or they have to feel inadequate for not living up to the illusion they’ve imposed on themselves.
In other news Ricky Gervais was hilarious at the Golden Globes:
And finally, today’s the start of the corruption trial in the Noos case where Princess Cristina of Spain is one of the accused (along with her husband). (Allegedly) Their company was put in charge of managing events for the government and they charged for a number of fictitious services to the tune of almost seven million euros. A sad and embarrassing affair.
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