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July 19th, 2019
All sorts of social media platforms connect people by creating an infrastructure where people follow others. We can for a moment, just take this literally and wonder how feasible it is to follow a whole bunch of different people? If everyone we follow is moving in different directions, which direction does that mean we go?
Of course, moving in a an actual physical direction relative to the people we might follow on social media doesn’t apply. And yet the language we use for such things, whether it be following, revolutions, movements…. many of these are phrased in the verbiage of physical space.
We must always pause to wonder if the language of our metaphors has even more resonance when taken somewhat literally. At the very least, this exercise enables us to look at the same thing from a different perspective, a different perspective that might allow us to consider a worrisome aspect.
The image of following a whole bunch of different people moving in different directions yields something that looks like gridlock. But we can also rephrase this image and see something like a web. With each person connecting outwardly to different people, influenced from a wide variety of spaces. This need not be gridlock. We can rephrase this as a kind of support structure. Supporting what, we might ask?
This is simultaneously a recipe for echo chambers, or self-inflicted torture chambers, or counter to these, this support web can provide a variety of influences that all don’t necessarily agree with one another.
Webs, under this perspective are not reminiscent of people following one another. A better notion is the idea of people being joined with one another and supporting a network of information transfer.
The best example is probably twitter. While some find it o be a cesspool of violent and uncouth proportions, others tailor their network and curate who they are joined with and suddenly their feed is flooded with a wealth of helpful information that helps push towards goals.
Physically we can only ever move in one direction. But ideologically, we can experience a buffet, joining our attention to new ideas and thereby bolstering the framework through which we gaze at the world.