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Lets all be happily superficial

This is one of those articles where I could be shooting myself in the foot, as it seems to be attacking the very media I am using to broadcast a viewpoint. However I have to be honest and say that one of my pet dislikes is that little button, obligatory on all social media sites, that invites me to dismiss the words of the author with a simple “Like”. Maybe its my boring academic background or the fact that I obviously have too much time to spare but I feel so dissatisfied with people ‘liking’ what I say. Why do they like it? If they have viewed it and not liked it- Why don’t they like it? What would their view point be? OK so you can leave a comment but on the whole people either ignore it or just “Like”.

For me thoughts, ideas, viewpoints, and experiences are the building blocks of life and as such are worthy of further exploration. They need to be mined for meaning and significance. We do that on our own within the confines of our own reflection and reasoning. It gets so much richer when we take the risk of doing that with other people. In fact many educationalists and social psychologists amongst us would say we absolutely need other people to interact with our own experiences and thought processes to really understand them. For me they add a creative dimension to sharing where others responses to my thoughts may spark off yet more ideas and deeper thinking and exciting consequences. So when I post things on Social Media it is to elicit engagement in the form of discussion, counter-arguments, development of my thinking that take me to new places. I am hoping to find people who are curious enough to ask further questions or offer their own critique of what I have posted.

My Social Media orientated friends tell me I am wasting my time: “Social Media is for broadcasting not for engagement”. “Its all about self promotion where volume, both in terms of quantity and of loudness, is all that’s important.” “Concentrate on making an impact, don’t try to build real interaction”. The rapidity with which ideas are posted is mind-blowing and no sooner has one thing been posted than it is submerged in an avalanche of new and unrelated ideas. No one seems to mind. It is the nature of the game and if you join in then you do so on its terms, forget your own whimsies.

Some time ago I wanted to reply to a post and video I had read on Linked In. It suddenly connected with something I was working on and I wanted to follow up what someone had shared. Unfortunately the post was over a week old. I could’t find it anywhere. It had disappeared off the face of the earth or, more accurately, had drowned in the intervening deluge. Ideas have become cheap we can broadcast them by the second, their value is momentary. Someone has coined the phrase ‘knowledge redundancy’ and suggested that a phenomena of the 21st Century is the flimsy nature of knowledge and that its value is never long term but because is almost inevitably going to be replaced very quickly.

I have another take on this phenomena which is that it represents our acceptance of superficiality, where deeper thinking isn’t necessary. Is there a danger of allowing our thinking to remain on the surface of new ideas and insights, of not having time to delve deeper, of not allowing our curiosity to linger and dig out new veins of richness? We could give in to this feature of social media orientated living. Let’s all be happily superficial. Life is changing too rapidly and moving on too quickly for anyone to allow their thinking to dawdle.

For me, there is something deep within my humanness that finds that way of living very unsatisfying. I feel that my mind will be the poorer for existing only on the surface; as will my thinking, my problem-solving, my decision making, my creativity, my relating to others, and my engagement with the rest of the world. But maybe that’s just me and the tide has fully turned against me.

Like this if you dare.

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