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Apr 27

Media Alienation 2.0

Social Media’s Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships is an interesting article.

If anything, social media is a counterweight to the ongoing devaluation of human lives. Social media’s rapid rise is a loud, desperate, emerging attempt by people everywhere to connect with *each other* in the face of all the obstacles that modernity imposes on our lives: suburbanization that isolates us from each other, long working-hours and commutes that are required to make ends meet, the global migration that scatters families across the globe, the military-industrial-consumption machine that drives so many key decisions, and, last but not least, the television — the ultimate alienation machine — which remains the dominant form of media. (For most people, the choice is not leisurely walks on Cape Cod versus social media. It’s television versus social media).

There’s a lot to agree with in this analysis. What I object to the notion that one form of media is intrinsically more alienating than another. (Unless we’re talking in terms of alienating labour but I suspect that’s not what’s meant here.)

Television is an alienation machine but so are computers. So are books. But are you better off reading a harlequin romance or watching The Wire? Are you better off reading that romance with an interesting analysis or watching The Wire slack-jawed and covered in Cheetos?

The medium really isn’t the message.

The ratio of crap to good is probably about the same through all platforms. And some people can wring a lot of good from crap while other people can turn gold into shit.

Social media has played both positive and negative roles in my relationships. So has television. And books. But none of these things have played as large a role in my relationships as I have.

For good or ill.

You can’t expect too much out of these glowing boxes and screens. Most of what you get out of things is what you put into them. That holds up across every medium.

I’d say try to be a better user of all of them.

via Nathan Jurgenson

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