Well, maybe not exactly. Perhaps it’s more like brain candy, so attractively sweet but rotting the organ from the inside out. There are about twenty different articles written a month that explain all this (by journalists hopelessly addicted to social media, no less), and the Atlantic’s thrown up another one recently. The author focuses on the concept of “flow”, which is the seductive and easy movement of the brain as it’s towed through ideas and images without any real mental engagement. Television has long been at it, but it was only an opener to the grand show of social media’s flashy vacuity.
The politics of flow likely will continue to redefine political discourse in our country. Flow makes video games and social-media sites more engaging, but the phenomenon might already have refashioned political discourse and permanently changed the institutions that depend on reasoned debate. And yet, flow’s engagement is so gratifying for so many, it’s difficult to let it go. Even if the public decided that the civic costs of social media outweigh the private pleasures, it might be too late, and too hard, to turn back.
I was amused by the author’s naif closing line, however:
If [flow] triumphs, the best we can hope for is a new breed of media-savvy AOCs with good ideas—and a sensitivity to the cost of expressing them in social-media form.
I don’t it’s quite yet sunk in with Americans yet that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is just Donald Trump for progressive hipsters. She’s everything they adore: young, photogenic, woke, nerdy, Diverse™ and Authentic™ , brazen, and social media savvy. She’s also a whirlwind of bloviating populist gibberish generated to galvanize a narrow-minded base, a political performance artist with an on the record contempt for something as pedestrian as rational thinking, a purported adult who whines childishly about inconvenience and acts surprised the real world is complex and might require a little bit of grit to get through.
If Ocasio-Cortez is the best we can hope for, the United States might as well throw in the towel now.