Technology has always had its detractors. From the more traditional households that refused to install a telephone to the prehistoric skeptics complaining about how things were simpler before all this ‘wheel’ business. Computers, of course, have been no exception. First dismissed as ‘mere toys’ back in the days when the motherboard needed to be connected to a television and then damned as the cause of the degradation of society.
If anything the projections have gotten even grimmer. Choruses of concerned parents despairing at how ‘distant’ their children are getting, joining with psychologist making, rather dubious, connections between Social Media use and increases in Anti-Social disorders and Attention-Deficit Disorder. Life in the 21st century it seems has come to be mean, distant and short.
Except that it isn’t. People today are not, by and large, ‘addicted’ to their devices. They are adapting to a new social paradigm. The existence of Twitter hate-mobs, while disheartening, is also fleeting and unlikely to last another year and despite the supposed compulsive nature of Social Media, people are beginning to switch off but not in the way most experts and parents assume.
Remember MySpace? Exactly. Any claims to dominance, importance or permanence. In Social Media universe is, at best, wishful thinking. A young woman recently announced, via YouTube, that she was quitting Social Media. The response was not entirely positive but that is only to be expected. A video of Pope Francis declaring the advent of world peace and free ice cream on Sunday would not get only positive responses. She is also not alone. Much like Facebook, now largely considered antique compared to newer platforms, YouTube is beginning to lose members, mostly through its rather cavalier banning criteria and the fact that the monetization system is increasingly made to look a joke by newer systems.
There are, of course, those making thousands and millions from their You-Tubing but this is mostly from sponsors and outside pay systems. They are also the exceptions that everyone points to as examples of how viable and amazing the platform is, trying to convince themselves as much as anyone else. For every Grace Helbig or PewDiePie there are countless others all vying for the same limited amount of mind-space. The much maligned ‘Gate-Keepers’ having been replaced by a sort of Soviet Approval Board made up of millions, where the definition between creator and audience is blurred and everyone is equal, except when they are not. And as often happens when Free-Market principles are applied to an essentially Communalist structure, some prosper and others want desperately to get out.