Social Media, the Antithesis of Being Sentient.

by Grumpy on January 17, 2014

sentient_defI am social, therefore I am. This seems to be a predominating theme in today’s society given our addiction to all things social within the online world. Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, leader boards, chat rooms, online multiplayer games, virtual worlds, and on & on. Social Media, however seems to be the antithesis of what being social really entails. In my opinion social interaction is the act of being a sentient person in which we should be required to interact in such a way which utilizes all the senses needed for the subject at hand. By this I mean that if you were to criticize another being prior to the online world, you better be prepared for the full experience of this act. Thus you would see, hear, feel the effects of your act and therefore it would leave a certain impression upon you which you would remember prior to committing the same behavior again. However, the online world allows us the ability to filter these feelings and therefore not experience the full effect. The net result is that a person is left with an unreal or false emotion which may be the opposite of what would have truly occurred if the same behavior were carried out in real life.

This is true on many levels ranging from cyberbullying to online adult entertainment. Recently I watched a few movies whose topic dealt with sex addiction (Thanks for Sharing & Don Jon). Now interestingly both movies used the online world as the media which fed this addiction. While that may not be surprising, take a moment to ponder this. Does that mean that sex addiction did not occur prior to the internet? I mean it would stand to reason that an alcoholic cannot be an addict if they do not have the means to obtain alcohol. However, prior to the online world, there were still magazines, video tapes, men’s clubs & services, etc. Yet I would argue that the predominance of this addiction coincides with the almost unlimited ability access to such content within the online world. That is not to say that the online world is the cause of such behavior but I would definitely argue that it is fuel for the fire!

In addition, the notion of cyberbullying where children do not experience the full effects of their actions until some atrocity occurs demonstrates the same detachment which robs the child of the concept that there are consequences for their actions.  As comedian Louis C.K. points out in his commentary with Conan O’Brien, a child can call someone fat and they never get to see the effects of that message since they are simply online and detached from the other person. This in essence never closes the feedback loop and thus children are taught the wrong message which instead of learning “Wow, I really hurt Johnny’s feelings.” They may instead learn hey it’s fun to put a Monkey head on Lisa and make her make odd noises.

The net effect of these interactions is that we as humans are becoming something other than human. In other words we seek the online world as a way to fill our needs for being sentient (i.e. social beings) but rather than improving our quality of life I would argue that social media not only deteriorates our existing “real” social interactions but also reinforces a false sense of ethics and morals which if anything appears to be causing further dissension and a disconnect from that which actually makes us “Human”.

At the rate we are going I would not be at all surprised if in the near future a Company has a slogan along the lines of build your perfect companion. This would simply be a small jump since we are so tethered to our mobile devices and online worlds as it is, once we are able to create a semi realistic synthetic android, why not program it to be your perfect companion. Never have an argument, never have it disagree with you, it will always be willing to do what you want & if you get tired of it simply trade it in for the next new model!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

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