Digital Personality

Hey Darren! Did you leave anything out in your last rap about networks versus the richness and complexity of real community interaction?

I’m glad you asked, because one thing I failed to mention in my last post is that FaceBook, blogs, and other forums that operate in the guise of community interaction are unable to, as John Taylor Gatto puts it, “nourish their members emotionally”.

While networks are generally extremely rational, illusion unfolds from ignorance of the fact that, as Gatto goes on to say: At our best we human beings are much, much grander than merely rational; at our best we transcend rationality while incorporating its procedures into our lower levels of functioning.

To be sure, networks can be super efficient and convenient at specific and sometimes necessary tasks. However, I’m more concerned about the absurdity of displacing interpersonal, community, and educational relationships with networks that perpetuate an illusion.

So…um…ya, these displays of supposed community interaction don’t really make us feel so great about being alive (quite different from feeling informed). Well, they certainly can make a person feel lonely anyway… They just ain’t human, and to change this immutable certainty would take away their success at their particular tasks.

You see, for the bottom line sake of profit, such limitations of networks mustn’t be acknowledged; this is where the illusion — the veil, if you like — engenders the problem. I mean, is Facebook really about to go with the catchy marketing slogan: “Sign up now! Bring further disintegration and loneliness to you and your community’s quiet desperation — anytime, anyplace there is a computer!”

No. Even the clever Bud Lite and Geico PR people would lose their jobs for stating such a truth.

Fortunately for Facebook, there are some very entrenched myths that have assisted in the efforts to create desires and intrigue for digital spectacles.

Oh! Did I mention that, similarly, the Race to the Top, and other network programs of mass-schooling — being promoted ostensibly as a fix for community ills — will only worsen social disintegration? (I did. Among other places, on the previous post: Networks, Community, and Early Childhood Education.)

So no, networks can’t manage our social and psychological needs. And the pretense of as much just leads to…

…Would I be off track to liken it to the drum machines we got so excited about in the 80’s? Well ya I know, these days, on the internet, we can all program the track together, right? Back and forth kine, no?

Well, sort of. But you see, you’re still stuck with the drum sounds (the illusions) — albeit pristinely digitally recorded — that came in the box (or network). And while the folks at BeatBook™ or whatever they’re going with, will do their utmost to convince the peeps that they are all drumming — grooving together as a community: this just ain’t the case.

All right. Before my metaphor goes as thin as those 1984 snares drenched in that novel (for the time) digital reverb, let me just state that:

Networks (or drum machines) just don’t develop with the complexity — the satisfaction — that actual community and real friendships can provide (or the richness of real people playing real grooves on real drums… but I’d best let go of that metaphor for now).

I just can’t let go! And so, as how that quantized drum machine track — with its constant repetition, sort of grooves, and yet…just doesn’t ever break out into fully human rhythmic gesture; so too, the constant thin human contact of networks can leave us with the feeling that our “friends”, beyond what’s in it for them, don’t really give a crap; not particularly curious: just indifferent.

It’s all right you sad lonely networker!

The fact is that those “friends” aren’t really friends; they’re fellow networkers! So cheer up chump! You really shouldn’t expect any more than attention to the common interest — DIGITAL CONTENT COMMON INTEREST, I might add.

Now doesn’t that feel better? (It’d be like you getting all pouty about that drum machine track that just doesn’t seem to listen to the rest of the band! Silly, huh?)

To summarize:

You’re getting confused about things if’n you get all pissed off, or sad, or lonely, about your digitally programmed “community”. And trying to imbibe your digital content with personality might just give you weird karma that you hadn’t bargained for.

(That guy’s not Rick James, he’s Buddy Rich.)


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