Sturgeon’s Law states that ninety percent of everything is crap. Ninety percent of music is crap, ninety percent of food is crap (unless you’re starving, in which case it’s life-sustaining crap), ninety percent of television is crap, ninety percent of literature is crap, and so on.
Sturgeon’s Law is correct. Ninety percent of everything is crap, which means ninety percent of the social networking being done in the name of democratization and personal empowerment is also crap.
What’s interesting about social networking crap is that it breaks down into two symbiotic categories which are opposite sides of the same entertainment coin. On one side we have ridicule, which makes us laugh, and on the other side we have righteous indignation, which makes us cry.
It’s as if social networking is actually a medium of entertainment, and only incidentally concerned with socializing or networking.
Adding to the appeal of social networking as entertainment is the fact that ridicule tends to generate righteous indignation and righteous indignation tends to beget ridicule, meaning there’s no stopping them once they get started.
Looking for laughs? Log onto any social networking site and you’ll find someone making fun of someone, which you can then like or retweet or comment on. If anyone has the temerity to accuse you of ridicule you can respond with righteous indignation.
Looking for justice? Log onto any social networking site and you’ll find someone standing up to someone, which you can then like or retweet or comment on. If anyone has the effrontery to accuse you of righteous indignation you can respond with ridicule.
(If you were in third grade you might be accused of bullying or playing victim, but because you’re an adult using expensive information-age technology you don’t have to worry about that.)
Like every other medium of entertainment, the ninety percent of social networking that is crap would be harmless fun if it wasn’t also inherently dehumanizing. Unlike every other medium of entertainment, participating in the generation of all that crap diminishes our ability to appreciate the remaining ten percent.
— Mark Barrett
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