SOCIALNOMICS ™, the social-media revolution -an exercise for TUNING UP OUR ABILITIES AS EXPERT READERS
An intense, vertiginous, hallucinating, captivating, …and absolutely partial video about social networks.
The information it gathers is impressive and important, indeed. But it falls into an old trap: It focuses only and triumphantly on the positive aspects of this phenomenum, and closes its eyes at the negative ones -like the risks it implies, too.
Only truth frees us; and a true image of reality must show both its lights and its shadows. When someone omits half or part of this image -no matter which one they hide, that person or institution is hiding from us information we need to take into account.
We need to remain neutral -that is: in touch with the whole of reality, with both and all parts of it, in order to make good decisions -those that will actually help us survive constructively.
[Watch the video,
and then continue reading about
. how it can help us to develop our expert-reading abilities]
A good way to get started in this healthy practice of checking and completing the information we receive from any given source, is to verify the numbers and precise data they give us. In the case of this video -for example, the authors do not mention their sources at all -they may be accurate and complete, but we have to make sure they are.
This is particularly necessary when we know nothing about the persons or institutions who created the video -like in the present case. Knowing nothing about them, we cannot presupose a certain degree of trustworthiness (that we would confirm of modify after watching it, of course).
It would prove equally interesting to intertwine omitted data, and even those that the authors are not even dealing with or thinking about, but which are clearly relevant to the subject.
Putting all these things together, we can complete the information the video gives us, and draw a fairer and more balanced image of reality.
Only once we have done our job as smart readers, as proficient audiences, as expert information consumers, will we be able to truly and intelligently measure the phenomenum we are studying up. In this case: Only then will we be able to seriously marvel ourselves at the speed of the social networks’ development, and at the apparent success of its deployment, and to profit from the advantages they both offer to us, without losing the ability to realize what risks they pose, and to protect ourselves from them.
A few examples of the risks evidently inherent to social networks:
Probable scenario #1:
Absorbed by the virtual world, we may lose contact with the piece of reality that our dear-ones are experimenting, with what they are living and going through. Once this happens, we may end up misinterpreting them (both their worth and their deeds and feelings), making wrong assumptions, forcing them to act the way we think they should, and forcing them because of this, to do what they actually should not -which can only produce conflict, resentment, and end up distancing us from them.
To make things worse, we will not even understand what happened (we will not have time, with our mobile/portable gadgets claiming permanently for our attention!), and we will sincerely come to believe that our beloved ones are dumb, ungrateful, and incapable of seeing that it is their wellbeing that we are striving to achieve…
Will we be able to realize that we ARE a huge part of “the problem” -a problem that has probably been fabricated by our minds rather than by them…? And that we cannot say these are our “beloved” ones, our “dear-ones”, if we refuse them our full and permanent quality attention simply because they have chosen to -or cannot, connect themselves to “the net”?
Probable scenario # 2:
Do you remember The net (a movie led by Sandra Bullock, and released in 1995, 2 years after the offical birth of the internet)…? It told the story of a programmer who seldom went to the office, because she took care of her work at home, and whose life -both personal and professional, was entirely mediated by her computing network. Due to her mother’s Alzheimer (which kept her away, in a specialized clinic), Sandra Bullock’s character had no physical, presential, relationship except with the pizza boy, the courier person, and the one who drove her supermarket orders to her.
Because of her work as a virus deprogrammer, one day she found herself in conflict with a group of people who was taking control of “the net” -thus taking control of all the information it gathers. The day that because of this, she needed to prove her identity to the police and to other people, she could not, as she had no human, tangible, witnesses of her existence at all. All her relationships were virtual…
Furthermore: Those who controled the net, modified all her personal data in order to protect themselves -firstly altering her criminal records so that she would lose credibility and be persecuted by the law-enforcing agencies, and secondly making the pharmacist dispense her the wrong drug (a letal one).
And these are only two of the possible scenarios resulting from social media overuse -of losing the balance between actual-and-virtual relationships and interactions.
3rd) UNCOVER THE MESSAGE!
After analyzing whether the video’s information responds to reality, and the interests or reasons affecting the matter under scrutiny, we must go further, and examine its message (the ideological goal of it, as we have explained in another article).
For example: The video proclaims that consumption will steer the net’s development. But, whom does this consumption benefit…? The video in fact was created for advertisers, with the purpose of talking them into investing both in the net and in the social networks.
Who, then, is in charge in the net? Who, therefore, is interested in only showing its positive side?
And this very fact tells us that in the end, content agendas influence the internet, too. They possibly account for the video’s triumphant tone, despite the passion and sincerity of its authors.
Not only this: When this video talks about “people being finally in charge”, whom are they talking about…? Everybody…? Is everybody in the net…? Everyone consumes in the net…?
It is no use, then, to claim that power has finally reached all of us, or that we all are finally in charge, when remembering how the digital revolution has changed our lives.
4th) ACCEPT IT, FINE-TUNE IT, OR REJECT IT!
What we are living, the video tells us, is the birth of “Socialnomics” (TM) -a revolution modelled by people. Now, considering everything we have just said, should we not rather say that we are seeing the birth of a new society, where raw consumption will substitute those ideologies and ideals we had come to believe in, reducing the value and worth of those who cannot buy, who do not want to buy, or -particularly, who are not or do not want to be in the net, to nothing…? That is: That the digital society is minoritarian, and non-representative; and that until mechanisms have been established to compensate for this huge slant, and every voice has been heard and taken into account, we cannot call it democratic.
5th) THE TIME FOR ACTING IS NOW!
We mentioned earlier that the quality of the information we have, influences directly the quality of the decisions we make -as measured in regards to our survival, and to surviving in a positive, constructive way. We have also mentioned that if we want to know what is really happening -reality, we need to see the whole picture -not only half of it. If we did not want to disqualify the internet or the social nets, then, what is it that we want to do? Is there a solution to this puzzle? Yes: Use your head, and give yourself a “rule of conduct”:
1) Quantify how much time and resources you can spend both on the internet and the social networks, and do not exceed it. Give yourself a routine, and live by it.
2) Decide upon how much time you can -and must, spend with your beloved ones on a daily or weekly basis, and do it. And make sure you give them quality time, instead of remaining by their side as tired and absent as a breathing corpse.
3) Turn your mobile/portable gadgets and your PC off, while you spend time with persons who are present by your side.
4) Listen to them attentively, showing that you actually care about what they are living. And try to understand why they are making this or that decision, instead of assuming what you suppose they are going through. Listening, understanding, and then reaching a solution between both of you, takes time. If you don’t give them time, then you do not truly know what they need.
5) Decide and make a conscious effort not to fall into a technology-addiction or dependence. If there already are deintoxication clinics, it is not because it is “easy” to encase them within healthy limits -but because we truly need to.
6) Be careful about the information you publish in the net, and to whom.
7) Take care of as many things personally (paperwork, work, groceries…), as you can.
8) And understand that the internet and the social networks are but a small piece of reality which gathers but a small segment of society; and that a large portion of people and life are not “connected”, which deems them not any less worthy of your attention or respect. …That using the internet does not make us any more democratic, but rather locks us into a small and artificial world –with a lot of advantages, certainly, but highly dangerous and imperfect…
As you can see, it is not our purpose to satanize the net; but neither it is to exalt it unrealistically and imprudently. We want to find a way to live with the internet, without sacrificing to it, those and that which are more important: Our people, our wellbeing, our safety, and our future. And also our health; but we shall talk about that in a future occasion.
6th) READING EXPERTLY THROUGH INFORMATION, IS AN ABILITY FOR LIFE!
In order to reach these conclusions about the video, it was first necessary to make our homework as expert readers, as eficient analyists and parcers (filters) of information. This video provided us with a good starting point, from where to develop our abilities.
Now that we have seen how useful it is to read things in-depth, let us go on doing it…