Today, the social media is probably the fastest way to have an access to information because of the modern technologies such as laptops and smartphones. However, people are unaware of how this convenience is sometimes very untrustworthy and dangerous. In his essay, McLuhan discusses about the new forms of “news” by introducing Xerox and its system, where an ordinary person can be the publisher. He calls this new system of journalism at that time, “the underground press”. He also argues that “as new media continue to proliferate, the nature of ‘news’ will naturally change too, along with the perpetually renewed revolution in information speeds and patterns.” Today, we have numerous forms of this “underground press” inside people’s smartphones. The example I give is Twitter. A Twitter is an online app where a user can post and interact with messages, “tweets”, restricted to 140 characters with registered and also unregistered Twitter users.
The picture above is a screenshot of a tweet by BBC Northampton about President Trump’s Inauguration. The tweet is this, “Breaking News: President Trump is injured in arm gunfire #Inauguration” Although, we know that this isn’t true, because Inauguration already happened in January and Donald Trump hasn’t gotten injured. But, what if you weren’t watching the TV during this inauguration and checked your phone and saw this tweet? BBC Northampton is a verified Twitter account, meaning the account is protected by Twitter from any copyrights. Also this account has over 40,000 followers. McLuhan claims that, “among the unexpected features of the information revolution are… major involvement in the lives of other people, and the extraordinary enlargement of the public sector. This tweet caused great confusions at that time and shortly after the original tweet, BBC Northampton tweeted saying that their account has been hacked and the previous tweet was fake. However, it is hard for the readers to know that the original tweet is fake if they didn’t watch the TV of the inauguration or read the following tweet. This is why social media is scary and dangerous. The fake tweet is an example of what McLuhan would call the “replay” , which takes news “on a totally new dimension”, but clearly this one took the news on a wrong dimension. We now live in a society where we could find out breaking news through our social media. However, one must be more cautious whenever he or she tries to spread it, because as McLuhan mentions, “at instant speeds… the audience becomes actor, and the spectators become participants.”
- Do you believe that social media’s pros or cons are greater?
- Does the character limit on tweets take away from authenticity of posts?
- Have you ever read news on social media then realized afterwards that it was fake?
Sputnik by Marshall McLuhan
On social media sites, users display their networks in order to signal a number of traits social status, political beliefs, cultural tastes and in order to establish trust in a new relationship – Public Displays of Connection by J.Donath and d.boyd
Whenever I check my Instagram timeline, there are many cute pictures of cute couples. Some of them are getting married and some others just got into the relationship. Sometimes, people are complaining how awful their ex-boyfriends/girlfriends are.
When I was in middle school, if I like someone I confess and if he also likes me back we just get into relationship and go on dates. We did not need to inform others what we are doing, except our close friends just for girls talk. But now I see people posting about happy stories like date night for anniversary and I’ll see them being deleted after awhile because they break up. This can lead to negative emotions and stalking behaviors.
Like it’s mentioned in Public Displays of Connection, the users use social media to establish trust in a new relationship and show it to others.
And everyone is connected with others all the time.
But is it really the best to care about what others will think about you by checking how many likes and comments you get?
Personally, it is not good for my mental health because it gives me anxious about what others will say about my posts and so on.
And also, it is disrespectful to keep checking your social media when you are with someone else. When my parents were younger, they were writing letters to communicate and call on the phone to make an appointment now it is really easy, which is not too bad, but it is also different. But I’d say the older generation probably had better quality of time during dates.
Here’s my questions:
- How has the dating style changed by having more social media available to you?
- Is it better? worse?
- Why do people post their dating status on social media?
The social media image that one has often does not accurately represent reality. Social media allows people to put on masks of identity using “techniques” to sustain impressions. A dramatization of this concept of masks is presented above where the woman portrayed has a mask that is more conservative than her actual appearance. McLuhan elaborates on the idea of masks by saying that, “the maker tends to project his own image as the mask of the user or reader which he endeavors to ‘put on.'” This is to say that the mask allows the performer to see the world differently and to also be seen differently (De Kosnik). Masks are readily available due to the ease with which people can access social media. Using these masks people construct their life rather than document it realistically and live vicariously through their “character”. In social media people can be who they want to be but the unrealistic image people present leads to possible difficulties connecting intimately.
With so many people performing simultaneously on social media and so much content shared instantly it is difficult to sort through what is important and what is unimportant. This is where meaningful connection can be lost because people focus on the wrong things while looking over what matters most. Social media changes the experience of interaction because it creates the possibility to, “have the experience and miss the meaning” (McLuhan). As McLuhan says, “the mysterious thing about this kind of
speed-up of information, whereby the gap is closed between the experience
and the meaning, is that the public begins to participate directly in actions
which it had previously heard about at a distance in place or time.” The closing of the gap is something social media inherently does but the significance of this can have dangerous consequences. Instead of being present, mindfulness is lost when people focus on attempting to connect to people, things and events far away from them and forgetting to value their immediate environment. The effects are less meaning within interactions however more numerous they may be.
This episode of Black Mirror exemplifies the way in which people are deathly afraid of the consequences of public rejection or criticism. This character in pink, Lacie, is penalized with a deduction of her official public reputation/ranking for making a scene in the airport. In her virtual world, ones public reputation is used to allow people access to things such as a plane ticket in her specific case. This is an example of how peer pressure can suppress behaviors that society decided is “bad” and unwanted. We have varying degrees of how much of our true self we can show to people depending on how close we are to them. The extent to which we trust someone to accept us is the extent to which we can reveal our true selves to that person. In one-on-one interactions there is the potential to be as close as possible to our true self. In groups we have to hold back a bit because you are not comfortable with some people in that group regardless of how much you trust other people within the group. In social media where content is for everybody to see we are the least like our true selves. We have to take into consideration everybody that may view the content and so it is naturally censored or adjusted for acceptance. McLuhan however, asks us to think of social media performances as “making” instead of “faking” although social media can certainly be used to create a new public persona that does not reflect the way someone is in real life. Although people create “characters” to represent themselves on social media which can be interpreted as “faking”, it can conversely be considered to be “making” if looked at from the perspective that separates the “true self” in real life and the “character” created on social media. If we can view these two personas as separate entities instead of as supposed to be one and the same, we can view these social media performances as a creation of a new entity instead of a false representation of the preexisting self.
- What is your opinion of social media and do you believe it helps or hurts human connection? Why do you use it or why don’t you?
- Do you agree with McLuhan that social media should be thought of as “making” versus “faking”?
- In what ways (if any) would you say you are different online than in person?
“At the moment of Sputnik the planet became a global theater in which there are no spectators but only actors” by Marshall McLuhan