Everything is social—Part I

[Note: I wrote this three-part post to summarize a larger thesis I have been slowly building up these past months, which may or may not end up being a larger work. For this post, I have removed most citations to academic papers dealing with social media and abridged the text as much as I could. It’s still a large post, so read it at your leisure; there’s no need to binge here.

I have focused on how the structure itself of social media and information technologies affects the arts, like writing, although I first start with visual arts as an example because it’s easier to show, and so you can see it’s a more general pattern. Of course, the dynamics apply to many other areas of culture and public opinion. What I describe here are not laws, more like trends based on digital and social media nudges, and if both artists as well as consumers become aware of them, it’s reasonable to assume they would react or behave differently so as to counteract some of these forces. But how far this could go I do not know.

It goes without saying that this post applies mostly to creative efforts. My overview of social media is mostly negative because I’m focusing here on the effect it has had on the arts and the people who are usually described as digital natives—people that, to be blunt, have been scammed. If your purpose on social media is to follow a couple of gimmick accounts or post pictures of your cat, most of what you’ll find here will not affect you directly. For most online users, social media is a place to lurk, find jokes, and get angry at the news. However, more indirectly, either as a consumer of what other people there create or as a victim of current online discourses, what is explained here will affect you (or annoy you) one way or another.]

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