On social media we have personas we prop up, be they wild pseudonymic selves, or some semblance of our verifiable ID’s. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, et. al., there’s the ever-present component of a post being liked or faved, or recycled. Many posters curry favor, pander, intimidate, or otherwise stoke the flames of approval-by-click. Many online personalities have cultivated followings of several hundreds or thousands of people.
A pattern occurs which supposes that every submission will get at least some percentage of affirmation. Meaning many tokens of approval and affection. I’m wondering what happens to general human relations when this newly dominant form of sharing comes with expectation of a cluster of facile responses- from mostly strangers, or ‘friends’ through association?
It seems Pavlovian, not unlike the way a horse in the circus is given a sugar cube after a trick. If getting a ‘like’ is the incentive, a reward for good behavior, reinforcing popular memes and tropes, what is the fallout of this mode of response? How does this tokenism impact expression? Does the easy click eclipse depth, might it stunt or stifle nuance which previously came from direct contact?
What’s the hit to facets of exchange which include body language, facial recognition, tone of voice, innuendo rich in context and meaning. My fear is that we’re becoming acclimated to a mindset that’s too glib, easy, algorithmic, subject to analytics, boringly binary, diminishing subtleties that distinguish and refine character. iBrattleboro falls within the spectrum but differs significantly by virtue of not having the one click option.
Mostly this question is focused on the great communicational autobahns that dominate our shared digital landscape. I know there’s a generational issue at work here. Maybe not quite a full ‘get-off-my-lawn’ curmudgeonism, but this is an inquiry that stems from having lived in a more introverted era. Selfies are the new show-and-tell on steroids. Narcissism normalized.
I see widespread addiction to the quick click of approval. With our memories, pictures, and posts shared willy-nilly and embedded in the cloud, all up for effortless validation, is there a corresponding loss to integrity of relations? Do little hearts and stars, as pleasing as they may be, either inadvertently, or insidiously, attenuate our primal core, cheapening what was previously known, and once valued as presence?