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

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Sun Feb 18 01:51:26 EST 2007

Isn't it important that we learn to think beyond simple dichotomies, as in
face to face vs. mediated.

Face to face is indeed very important, and can be the most thrilling and
'unalienated' human experience.

But living in Thailand, where the remnants of traditional life are so much
more alife, and enjoying the tremendous benefits and solidary of my wife's
extended family, I'm also aware of the downside of traditional community
life. It would be wrong to say that such relationships were not mediated.
They're not mediated by technology, but by social custom and the status and
hierarchically-laden social system.  In this particular situation, while it
is my impression that people are generally happier, as long as they stay
'inside the system', there is also a total lack of trust in the 'outside',
seen as dangerous. In the West, so it seems to me, there is much more
generalized trust in the 'other', but at the same time, I see countless
individuals struggling with identity and belonging issues, sometimes to very
late in life. I tend to think that what we need is a mixture, that
westerners can learn from the countries that have not destroyed completely
their traditional anchorings, while they can learn from us, preferably
avoiding the western 'barbaric' treatment of infants and older people.

One of the changes induced by modernity, is a partial emancipation of
traditional constraints, and replacing it through an enlargement of social
bonds, through the means of impersonality, whether that is through the
market, contracts, and also, I would think media.

We have to therefore always keep in mind that a simple nostaliga to earlier
face to face modes, is not what we want, as that would mean a return to
closed communities. And also, we must make a difference between the old
model of mass media broadcasting to atomized individuals, to contemporary
social media. Simply condemning them for their mediatization is a cop out.
More important is the question: what kind of mediatization is it that we
want, and how can we achieve it.


On 2/18/07, Ulises <arsalaan1-idc at yahoo.com> wrote:
> 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>
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