Social media just seems like a lot of noise sometimes.
I look at my Facebook wall and it’s akin to being in a nightclub with lots of rooms all playing different genres of music and I’m in a corridor by the toilets with all these sound sources blending into one discordant mush. I want to go home where it’s quiet but all my friends are in the different rooms so I’m forced to stay because I like them even if I don’t like the same music that they like.
I hardly ever post anything. Sometimes I see something I feel strongly about and think I should share it or I’ll see a comment which I know is blatant bollocks and go to reply – then I think why do I want to add to the noise? It’s like I’m playing the triangle is the middle of a Black Sabbath concert.
Sometimes I see posts and I think why have you posted that? What purpose did you think it served? It seems we’re either preaching to the converted or goading our enemies and neither position achieves anything other than satisfying something within ourselves for self-promotion. And I’m not pretending to be immune to that feeling by any means. We all want to be noticed.
In the aftermath of the London attacks the noise level rose to 11. There were factual articles, comment pieces, comment pieces about other people’s comment pieces, arguments and bickering as well as the inevitable jokes. I even contributed myself against my better nature.
Did I learn anything? Not really – all it demonstrated is that some people are cunts and that other cunts will try and use the original cunts behaviour as an opportunity for their own cunty gain – and quite frankly I knew that already.
That’s not to doubt the obviously sincere intentions of lots of the people posting but it just seems like we’re all being played. What was sold as an egalitarian vista has been hijacked so we’re all now effectively unpaid propagandists for a small selection of views – sharing links to content expressly written for the purpose of getting people to share links.
I think of Bill Hicks comments that ‘if anyone here is in marketing or advertising…kill yourself.’ How would he feel about the fact that we all effectively work in marketing now, voluntary and willingly, through our social media. Mass suicide?
Often maxims are contradictory – for every ‘Look before you leap’ there’s a ‘He who hesitates is lost.’ The American essayist William Matthews even said ‘All maxims have their antagonist maxims; proverbs should be sold in pairs, a single one being a half truth.’
The maxim ‘a wise man keeps his own counsel’ however has no antagonist maxim and probably for good reason.
It seems like social media has made us forget that just because we have an opinion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an opinion worth sharing. Opinions are like arseholes etc…
It’s important to stress that this is not the same as not having an opinion at all. Anyone who knows me knows I can be one of the most opinionated objectionable arseholes around but I try and do it old skool – at home, in work or at the pub – where I can look people in the eye.
I’m still a chimp throwing my own faeces around but purely within my own living quarters and for my own amusement. I don’t want to throw other people’s shit around the entire monkey village – after all who wants to live in a village full of monkey shit?
The comedians Peter Cook and Chris Morris once had a radio show called Why Bother? which could be taken as some sort of statement of nihilistic intent but I prefer to think if it as a challenge – a series of cognitive hoops we should all jump through to justify before engaging in anything on social media.
So when I find myself inclined to post or comment I think Why Bother? Unless I can come up with a tangible reason i.e. a need to inform people about an event or I’ve genuinely found something that I think my friends will benefit from reading (and we need to be rigorous in examining this motivation) then I simply don’t bother.
So next time you feel like posting something on social Medea, ask yourself why bother? You might find there isn’t an answer.