Rhonda Smolarek wrote a short article on LinkedIn about the social media and it reminded me of a ‘Facebook’ discussion a few month ago that went sour. A video of a US policeman punching the crap out of someone on the ground by a busy interstate was posted. What intrigued me more was the reaction of the Facebookers. I’m calling them facebookers as they take on a different persona than their real/ corporeal ones. They all assumed on face value that the Policeman was punching the person because a. She was black or b. She was black or c. She was black. Immediately a complete mistrust and assumption that the White US Policeman was a racist who liked punching old black women at the side of a busy interstate. I posed the question as to why the Policeman was punching the crap out of the woman and the response was pretty abusive to say the least. I asked what happened prior to the video clip? What was the reason behind the attack? From the further responses I understood what the term ‘Troll’ meant and decided not to continue and left the conversation. It was pointless continuing as people who posted the clip had already made up their minds when they posted it. In effect it wasn’t a discussion, but a joint call for outrage. There’s a reason why these people will sit in their living rooms and comment on stuff and not make any real impact in a court of law. It seems that the whole social media phenomena has altered how we interact and influence the world. It draws on moods and motives we would normally inhibit around real people, it pulls out alternative versions of ourselves, as to how we want to be viewed. For many people it’s escapism and some of the things posted are to simply to evoke responses from the cyber masses. The whole organism, the whole multicellular community is host to influence and will sway and move in a manner the protagonist’s want. The media have been doing this for a couple of centuries and they’re very good at only showing you a portion of the facts, whilst not lying to you, but leading you down the wrong rabbit hole to a conclusion divorced from reality. Only recently have the ordinary person been enabled to wield this power – vloggers, bloggers, Facebookers and Twitterers alike. The consumerists among us are vulnerable to this, such as those poor, hapless Facebookers who were subjected to that video clip of Police aggression. No thought had gone into motives and reasons for the attack – I didn’t make any assumption or come to any conclusion with regards to this at the time as there was insufficient information.
The expressional release of ourselves or our virtual selves can be seen as a healthy output for many of us who cannot express ourselves in the real world whether it be for health or psychological reasons. But for many as Rhonda mentions in her potent article, there is a lie and in a sense we’re losing ourselves to media influences such. There are parallels to the host of young people who flock to the middle east in the illusion that they’re fighting for some romantic cause for the Islamic State. Cast your minds back a century to those German and Commonwealth soldiers who marched to war, smiling, banners flying, crowds cheering, only to have their minds dashed away by the reality of war.