MrMary’s Twitter Experiment: The Public Sphere is dead Rant


Introduction

Probably due to a lack of sexual activity, I find myself reading a lot and one of the subjects I read the most on is history. There is a particular moment in history that fascinates me, well there are a few but this one is the most pertinent to what I want to talk about.  For the sake of brevity I will quote from a contemporary philosopher and sociologist Jurgen Habermas:

…prior to the 18th century, European culture had been dominated by a “representational” culture, where one party sought to “represent” itself on its audience by overwhelming its subjects. Habermas argues that the coming of the capitalist stage of development marked the appearance of Öffentlichkeit (the public sphere) – public space outside of the control by the state, where individuals exchanged views and knowledge the essential characteristic of the Öffentlichkeit culture was its “critical” nature. The Öffentlichkeit culture was characterized by a dialogue as individuals either met in conversation, or exchanged views via the print media. Unfortunately the public sphere fell into decay  in part due to commercial mass media, which turned the critical public into a passive consumer public; and the welfare state, which merged the state with society so thoroughly that the public sphere was squeezed out. It also turned the “public sphere” into a site of self-interested contestation for the resources of the state rather than a space for the development of a public-minded rational consensus.

To recapitulate briefly, for a while the public sphere was a place where people could come together to talk and share ideas and be critical of the world around them. Today “every space” is  taken up by advertising, the commercial, the movies, the bill boards the trains, the side of trains, the  newspapers, the talk radio show, the fashion shows. Let me share with you some statistics:

  • Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5
  • Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
  • Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70
  • Percentage of parents who would like to limit their children’s TV watching: 73
  • Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TVand spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
  • Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
  • Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500

This is very disconcerting news  and the above statistics were compiled in the late 90’s. Almost 20 years ago.

The Experiment

SO what does all this have to do with twitter.com ? Well A few months back I started laughing at my desk at work when I read the word social media, I wasn’t big on Twitter then and I am not big on twitter now. But I thought I would put that term to the test and see how social is social media. I wanted to follow a bunch of people and just start talking to them all the meanwhile observing trends.  This means of course  saying hi to people asking about their day , sharing my ideas listening to others share theirs, telling jokes here and there. I learned two things from doing this :

  1. Clicking links that took me to pornographic sites were inevitable
  2. We have become seriously estranged to each other, and to ourselves. We view friendliness with the utmost suspicion
  3. We force ourselves into believing that everything is ok by repeating vapid empty bullshit positive statements

The Results/Observations

  1. We are overwhelmingly lonely. All the modern day conveniences have not done away with the needs for validation , companionship, and attention. No matter what PornHub,com or politician Anthony Weiner‘s campaign tells you can’t find that online.
  2. A lot of people’s shadow side come out on social media – by shadow side I mean that side of ourselves that we repress – the things they dont like about themselves but refuse to articulate, things they cant say out in the open like “Kill all niggers” etc all that stuff comes out which makes me wonder how repressed are we really. Free speech is still a dream in many ways
  3. If Machines ever gain sentience, human will be taken over by a gang of rabid vibrators and sexual toys. They know our every thought by virtue of going ball deep inside our psyches. I wanted to tell say: Your carpel tunnel has nothing to do with typing but rather hours working the jackhammer, paving the new street and in-roads to your heart.
  4. We have a fractured view our ourselves,. We want more and more followers which means we believe that we are people worth following, but then self-deprecative jokes and comments saturate twitter more than anything else I have seen.

I could go on but why? You already know all I am about to say, especially for those of us who blog.. If you blog you are well aware that for many bloggers

Blogging quickly devolves into a cabal. Cabal here has nothing to do with Madonna (the singer not the Virgin well she can be a virgin I don’t know if she has had that procedure and preserved her lady bits with daily applications of pickle juice – I read that in Cosmo).  I mean a popularity contest between the same handful of persons. Try this out, take a blogger you like reading and look at their early stuff before they started getting likes, before anyone started to give a shit about them. Then look at their most recent stuff see if the passion to write and to express is still there. See if you can discern a human being behind the words. I’m sure it wont take you long looking at their new stuff that inside jokes, allusions to stuff only the other members of their cabal will understand and some sexual innuendo type comments dominate the landscape. Many bloggers jettisoned real sincere content for popularity long ago. This is not a judgment or anything negative. That’s the nature of a significant portion of bloggers on twitter, and that is life, that’s how it is. We have all done, myself included, things to be considered more popular and be more with the in-crowd. I’m sure old credit cards statements, trips to the free clinic and that shoe box under your bed where you house all the old pictures and bullshit love-letters and that busted condom from your first time , yeah I’m sure that has evidence of what I am talking about. There is some college student (male or female I don’t judge) getting tea-bagged right now by someone, not because they like the taste, but because they feel it will make them more popular, it will make the bagger  like them (the baggee) more and hopefully give them more attention and love. Sadly though they will only continue to get free delivery of throat yogurt.

That being said I have met some amazingly nice people, genuine people on Twitter. People that restored some faith in humanity. I have connected with like minded people and it has been great. They have comforted me in my sad times and cheered me up. I would name names but I’m not a fucking snitch.

Conclusions

I plan on doing a more serious study of course. I am going to start a new twitter account. My account will mock someone sort of famous who I think is as useful to society as sperm down the shower drain. We can watch my klout score go up or down etc based on the bullshit I do for that week.

yeah that’s it

MrMary

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “MrMary’s Twitter Experiment: The Public Sphere is dead Rant

  1. Those are some sad statistics about kids and TV. I think if I ever have kids I’m going to take them travelling around or something for awhile or take them camping, a lot! Anything to get them away from the bombardment of advertising and the constant message that you are lacking without this, and this and this!
    I think you are right about there just being a loneliness epidemic in our society. I’ll be interested to hear about the results of your further twitter studies.

    Like

  2. You should read “Get up, Stand Up” by Dr. Bruce E. Levine. It’s exactly about what you talk. The isolation that the modern day consumerist society brings upon us and how it is a cause for the increase of mental diagnosis. And much more, I’m almost done reading, it’s definitely worth reading.

    Like

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