I watched a serene video of a couple of Eastern European women making bolognese sauce over an open flame outside their rustic home. It struck me that large swathes of the world could burn down, and as long as their patch of land remained, they could easily be none the wiser. For them Twitter doesn’t exist. The onions they pulled from their garden do.
It made me wonder. Does Twitter exist? Twitter doesn’t exist in real space apart form ones and zeros on a server somewhere. The only reason Twitter matters is because we assume there are real people expressing real opinions on it. But what if that’s not the case? What if a significant portion of the traffic on Twitter is bots?
About 20 percent of the world’s population is on Twitter. Only about 5 percent of that subset generate almost all of the content. I keep thinking about these facts and asking myself why it seems to play an outsized role in our media landscape.
I’ve always felt a little hostile toward the social media companies. I’ve thought for years that they have too much power, and have proven either unwilling or unable deal with it in a life and democratically affirming way. All things I continue to think. But I am also wondering how much of our current strife could be neutralized if say someone where to push a button and erase Facebook and Twitter tomorrow.
We would still have massive problems. That doesn’t erase climate change or our racist justice system. But it would put an end to arguing with uncle bob about why feeling the need to say all lives matter says more about him than he would like.
And once we aren’t pounding away at our keyboards maybe we would go to a townhall meeting to talk about housing policy? Or maybe we would attend city council meetings to see how the police are spending their massive budgets? And it seems to me that these are the things we can actually influence. Uncle bob doesn’t give a shit about what your libtard ass is saying.
Maybe uncle bob is never going to agree with you, so your time would be far better spent trying to get cannabis decriminalized in your state or city. That would prevent folks from getting ensnared in the justice system and relieve untold amounts of trauma in the community. Sure this isn’t taking down climate change, but is there anything one single individual can do about that unless you’ve got Jeff Bezos money? Not really.
Lately, the sense that this digital world that we’ve chosen to believe is real isn’t. And that we interpret it that was is totally our choice. We can choose differently.
I got a Nintendo for my 10th birthday. When I started Mario Bros, it was clear to me I was engaging in a world that wasn’t real. It was just ones and zeros. Maybe it’s time to treat all social media the same. Unless there are cat videos. The internet was made for cat videos. I will take all the zeros and ones in the form of cat videos, please.