[iDC] How does social media educate? :: response to john hopkins

Ulises arsalaan1-idc at yahoo.com
Sat Feb 17 15:00:22 EST 2007

John Hopkins,

You are right to point out that all media is social. So why did we feel it was
necessary to redundantly re-qualify it? As I asked at the beginning: What is the
problem to which social media is said to be the answer?

I found myself agreeing with you when you said:

<blockquote> I can think of no other 'explanation' to the alienation and
dis-ease I see in people in the developed world other than the increasing
degrees of attenuation to human relationship which occurs at each juncture of
'higher' technological implementation. Nor can I explain the greater and greater
indexes of control which dominate our existence in the social system that
produces the mediative technologies except that we are giving more and more of
our energies into that social system, surrendering that life-energy to the
collective use of the system -- to use as it wishes -- to collect and project in
the process of insuring its continued existence (which means securing the need
for the individual to continue to give energy into the system, and not to the
Other). </blockquote>

However, I struggle with the notion that, as you suggest, "The seed of
alienation is in that imperfection-of-means to bridge the gap between the Self
and the Other." Do you mean to suggest that any kind of face-to-face
communication is always preferable to any kind of mediated communication because
it is immediate and synchronous? (not that f2f is unmediated) If so, this would
mean that distance translates into an increase in mediation (the farther the
Other, the more mediation is required to bring it near), which in turn results
in more ‘imperfections’ introduced into the communication process. In other
words, the use of any instrument or technology to mediate communication is seen
as resulting in a lesser form of perception than what can be experienced
directly by the body, because in some way or another this mediation constitutes
a decrease in the quality or amount of data that could be gained through one's
senses. But just as we can 'understand' a city when viewing it from an airplane
in a different way than we can understand it while walking through it streets, I
think sometimes mediation can provide a new kind of "nearness."

I think the issue is not whether the Self can approach the Other through
"imperfect" mediation, but whether mediation can help the Self, as Deleuze would
say, become Other to itself: "For it is not the other which is another I, but
the I which is an other, a fractured I" (Difference and Repetition, 1994, p.
261). Perhaps the problem is that we have been too quick to buy into social
media's narrative of the "integration of identity" that Alex Halavais was
talking about a while ago. If anything, social media should educate by going in
the opposite direction: not towards the "look at me I can have any identity I
want online" but towards an authentic critique of identity via the 'fracturing'
of the Self.

I apologize for not being able to express this more clearly. I'm still thinking
about it.



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