Social Media Iconoclast

Iconoclast: A person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions.

There is something incidious about all of this. The images that spring to my mind are of the Sourcerer’s Apprentice or a squirrel on an exercise wheel. Micky in that Disney classic uses his master’s magic to help with a chore. The magic gets out of hand because he doesn’t fully understand it. The squirrel is at a keyboard as it runs. The wheel spins faster and faster, the squirrel types more and more. He is reassured by rows of other squirrels running on their exercise wheels, banging away at their keyboards. They’re gaining followers and comments. If he can just run a bit faster he can have that too…and money! Right now he glows in the warmth of attention and approval. He has followers and likes but needs to promote and link. It’s never enough somehow. Is all this healthy? is it sustainable? Why does the bug fly a tight orbit around the porch light? Some instinct it doesn’t question makes it want to do this. The natural urge to seek the light and its warmth has been subverted. It wastes time and effort but attains nothing. The pheromone traps use a natural lure, sex, to collect bugs. On the internet plenty of that bait set for humans. Social bait works well too. To be accepted by the group. To have the approval of others. To belong. Instincts in a social animal are very strong. When denied society and its approval the individual sickens. I remember one night, watching a firefly attracted to a light switch. Not the light itself but the little glow in the switch. It was flickering. Neon lamps do that when air seeps thru the seal between glass and wire. When the right amount of air mixes with the neon gas this flicker roughly immitates that of a fire fly. I suppose the interface me and the squirrel are connected to could fake it – could tell us that thousands were hanging on our every word. Wouldn’t be true but we’d feel great! And, as long as we didn’t try to extract any $$ from this popularity, who’d know? Wouldn’t mean anything. Wouldn’t be real social approval but we’d react as though it was. When nobody liked us or visited or viewed our site we’d be sad. I am not much brighter than the squirrel, or Micky. We invoke this magic but don’t understand it. No, I don’t mean we are ignorant of the technical stuff. I suggest we are totally clueless about the psychological part, the hook, the bait. The practical use of the web, ordering toys from China, is fine and an improvement on going into town. Uses less gas, pollutes less. Reasons from normal times. Now social distance goes to the top of the list. The market where people in the past bought and sold everything they didn’t make themselves, was also where they met. The web can substitute for one use of the market but not for the other.

Published by glensketch

Retired from electronics industry. Ex USN ex USAF ex expat in Ecuador.

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