The world over, agriculture is on the decline, our education is fading and so on. It is easy to point fingers and blame “the media” for all of this.
Last week I was having a discussion with some friends about the death of the toasting and dating social conventions. We spoke about how it seems technology has helped to bridge the gap and almost mechanized an erstwhile intricate and thought provoking process. Gone are the days when guys had to sit down to think up ‘lyrics’ to use on girls they fancy. I remember sitting by the radio listening to heart-warming R‘n’B tunes, watching all kinds of romantic movies and even for some, they went as far as reading verses from the Songs of Solomon just to have that creative edge with women and consequently their peers.
Fast forward a couple of decades and we have more or less junked that entire process. The introduction of the Internet and the proliferation of its consumption has more or less unwillingly taken mankind away from its sensitive core and shoved us closer to the point where we have become nothing but digital zombies seeking social relevance. And if you think I’m exaggerating by suggesting that in our generation, social relevance is fast becoming a primal urge then you need to wake up and smell the coffee.
A plane crashes a stone throw away from your home, a family friend’s father who happens to be a public figure passes away or even worse, you lose a relative, perhaps a parent. The first thing that comes to your mind is sharing the information with the hundreds or maybe thousands of near-strangers in your carefully cultivated social network. The unnatural thirst to be the first at the scene of the disaster, not primarily for the purpose of saving lives or helping the wounded but just so you can be the first to spread the word. That involuntary itching that sends you on unimaginable quests just for exclusivity.
Am I going too far? Maybe I need to come down a bit just so we can understand how much of an epidemic we are dealing with. As a result of varying economic status, not everyone has access to the resources that can grant them this highly sort after ‘social relevance’. You can barely afford a blackberry and then they come up with Instagram, which is only available to ios and android enabled devices so what do you do? You divert funds set aside for more important things, lie, steal, cheat or do whatever you can to get a new device. Why? Just so you can break into that social strata. But still, some aren’t creative enough to go this route so what do they do? They ride on the free platforms to gain relevance. Create a Twitter account solely for the purpose of tweeting nude images of women, another for the purpose of spreading destructive rumours and yet another used just to deliver the ‘much needed’ nuisance factor in our society.
There is so much power in anonymity and almost daily, I see how people fall victim to it. A young man of say 20, who naturally would be classified as a sociopath, can live behind a social media platform sending out creative content daily. Like moth to a flame, we are easily drawn to his content and eventually to him. This individual who is naturally an introvert, becomes the go-to guy in cyberspace and consequently gains that social relevance he probably never imagined he would. And of course the gratification doesn’t stop there. Once he has the coveted social relevance, other basic human needs like money and sex/companionship will easily follow.
Now, we all know that there are also positives to the democratization of the media. Some have used the same free channels I mentioned earlier to save lives and add value – there is no doubt about this. My concern, which brings me back to where I started from, is this: it’s becoming more and more obvious that both the do-gooders and the bad guys (pretty much all of us), are starting to “believe” that our primal goal here on earth should be to acquire enough social relevance after which all other things will follow.
Now I don’t need to tell you all that can go wrong if this continues. The world over, agriculture is on the decline, our education is fading and so on. It is easy to point fingers and blame “the media” for all of this. Those familiar with the agenda setting and similar media theories will understand where I’m coming from. However, today, I just want to hear your opinion on the subject. Do you agree with me when I say the competition for social relevance is fast becoming the most important one in our generation? If so, who/what do you think is responsible and how can we make it stop?
– Follow me on twitter @thetoolsman
– Read my other posts here: http://www.thenakedconvos.com