If you’re one of the few people who actually keep an eye on my blog, you might have noticed that I’ve stayed quiet for a long long time. There were some technical articles here and there, but last time anything of substance was written was around three years ago. A lot happened in three years, although many things seem to have remain unchanged.
I’ve been quiet not only on my blog, but also on my social media as well. If you know me and follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might also notice that I’m just as quiet over there as I am here. I didn’t have a really clear idea of why I ceased voicing my thoughts on the internet (or anywhere at all, really), but I’ve been vaguely thinking about it. I think I have been silent because of a kind of meaninglessness that I felt but didn’t see.
What do people do on social media? Sure, you’d post things; but who are the
people that might read your stuff? Friends from before — their lives diverged
far away from yours, and they have little in common with you; they’d be polite
even if they still kindly greet you when you meet again, online or otherwise.
One-time friends — people you’ve met somewhere, somehow, at sometime, whom there is a very real possibility you will not ever meet again; to them, are you not but a stranger? Family — heavens forbid you even add them on your media; why would you want them to read your writings anyway? All they are able to do are to over-react, to have the illusion that they understand, or to hold no real regard to anything other than their own comfort.
What about all the strangers? Well, they’re not doing too well either. If they hold an opinion you agree with, well what good do you achieve by echoing with them? If they hold an opinion you disagree with, given the general state of affairs of the discourse (or the lack thereof) in this day and age, they are more likely to attack you, shut you down, call names, rather than produce any meaningful insight that could teach anyone anything new. It doesn’t matter who’s acting in goodwill or not; goodwill is almost irrelevant. People often have goodwill and don’t intend to do harm, yet the impatient words and brief disagreements between strangers online are likely to result in conflicts that do not bring any wisdom, no matter what good intentions any of the participants held when they started their part of the conversation.
On the technical side, it seems that more and more of the large companies are picking up the bad practice of tracking us, analysing us, and selling us as ad targets. It would’ve been a tolerable trade if there were actually some kind of benefit to be gained from posting things into the public space.
Sometimes I’d have the feeling that the online space is a bit more removed from reality; consequences aren’t as direct and immediate. Here, it’s as though I could say out loud things in my mind without as much repercussions as I would likely have got if I were to speak in public in person. However, this idea is merely wishful thinking. Shall I associate my online speech with my in-real-life identity, in which case back would come the repercussions? Or should I create some sort of anonymous account, which I am careful not to let any clues link to my real-life identity, and in which I truly freely speak my mind, but really achieves nothing new when compared to merely writing into a private diary or shouting into the empty void. Sure, unknown strangers may give their replies, but their opinions truly mean nothing, and doesn’t even deserve attention.
What is worse, is that I have a hunch, that ideas really worth exploring are often deeply disturbing and very triggering. I feel a bit nervous from the mere fact that I’m writing that, but people’s reactions to unfamiliar, unusual ideas are deeply disappointing. People can, and will, find politics, identity, insult, and anger in just about any topic; it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the “left” or “right”, I’m pretty sure some of my thoughts would piss you off either way. Notice that your reactions to my thoughts are the same no matter if I voice them online or in person, under my own name or anonymously. There is no escape, and the internet, the social media does not help. If it’s basically never an expectation that I would get an informative, rational argument — even, I almost beg you for a sophisticated rebuttal — and all I would realistically get is judgement, angry shouts, or mindlessly-agreeing echo chambers — what motivation do I still have towards saying what is in my mind?
Those who are really your friends would be in contact regardless of whether you’re on social media or not, regardless of what you say on it if you’re there. However significant or not the role they play in your life is, social media doesn’t really make a difference. So now if you think about what there is in the rest of social media, it’s really just a pile of peole with whom you really have no real connection. Whether you post, what you post, really doesn’t matter, even if people are agreeing or disagreeing with your opinions.
The initial idea of social media was to make more connections between people, yet as it stands, despite the lot of noise that is time-waster videos or trivia news, and despite the (really not-so-) occassional travel photos of that person you met on that one day somewhere, it really doesn’t make much difference if you post things or not. You have no connections with people. Well, technically you have those connections that you would’ve had anyway even if you weren’t on any social media, but since where was thay any business of social media? If you have been feeling alone, alone you shall continue to feel, as you watch people’s posts follow by.
The illusion of social media was that it somehow gave you something, brought you closer with someone, when in reality, what could it do? Better to look elsewhere for whatever you seek but did not find.