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A mirror of ourselves

Jan 31,2019 - Last updated at Jan 31,2019

There is no doubt that discourse on social media is quite diverse. Not all people speak or write in the same way.

While some are characteristically aggressive, dualistic and impressionistic in expressing their views or promoting those of others, others are balanced, sober and precise.

Much of what we have to go through on an hourly basis, and between Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Youtube, Snapchat, Instagram, we go through a lot, is superficial, trivial and at times grossly fallacious. But much is substantial, complex, useful, reliable and scientific.

Some of the material is subversive and destructive, while some is enlightening and constructive.

In a lot of ways, social media is a mirror of who and what we are as a society and as a culture.

It says a lot about us, positively and negatively.

For a long time, I have been looking at traffic in our society as an epitome, or a metaphor, of the culture. I still do, but I find social media to be useful as an epitome and a metaphor, as well.

And in many ways, it is like traffic.

There is, perhaps like in motoring, immediacy and informality about discourse on social media that distinguish it from other forms of discourse in other contexts and venues.

For instance, it is to be contrasted with the kind of rhetoric and discourse we produce in formal settings, such as radio, TV and newspaper interviews, written or oral assignments at schools or universities, which tend to be overtly cautious, "polite", laudatory, optimistic, patriotic and idealistic.

On social media, however, people are freer, more spontaneous, less inhibited, bolder and more critical.

This, the "more spontaneous”, the "less inhibited", the bolder", etc., many find to be both upsetting and problematic.

No one is bothered, of course, by the sober, the balanced, the scientific, etc., at least, if they are bothered, they are bothered less.

The problem with the former type of discourse, the bolder and the critical, is that it tends to be more noticeable, more appealing to many and more impactful, even though quantitatively it could occupy less space than the latter.

And it is exactly like reckless motoring: the fewer practice it, but it brings more attention to itself than sober motoring does, and it bothers and upsets many. 

The point to stress here is that no matter what we think about our discourse on social media, it is our own making, a mirror of ourselves.

What we say, what we show, what we post and what we share mirrors who we are

May be if we look at it from this angle, we could take what we do a bit more seriously than we presently do.

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