We are swimming in writing. Our lives have turn out to be, inside the phrases of the writer and educational Shoshana Zuboff, an “electronic textual content”. Social media systems have created a machine for us to write to. The bait is that we are interacting with other people: our buddies, colleagues, celebrities, politicians, royals, terrorists, porn actors – all of us we adore. We are not interacting with them, however, however with the gadget. We write to it, and it passes on the message for us after preserving a document of the information.
The system advantages from the “network impact”: the greater humans write to it, the greater advantages it is able to offer until it becomes a drawback no longer to be a part of it. Part of what? The international’s first-ever public, live, collective, open-ended writing challenge. A digital laboratory. An addiction machine, which deploys crude techniques of manipulation redolent of the Skinner Box created through behaviorist BF Skinner to control the behavior of pigeons and rats with rewards and punishments. We are customers, lots as cocaine addicts are customers.
What is the incentive to interact in writing like this for hours every day? In a form of mass casualization, writers no longer expect to be paid or given employment contracts. What do the structures provide us, in lieu of a salary? What gets us hooked? Approval, attention, retweets, shares, and likes.
This is the Twittering Machine: now not the infrastructure of fiber-optic cables, database servers, garage systems, software program, and code. It is the machinery of writers, writing and the feedback loop they inhabit. The Twittering Machine thrives on its pace, informality, and interactivity. The protocols of Twitter itself, for example, encourage humans to submit speedily and regularly. The feed has an incredibly speedy turnover, in order that something posted will, unless it “is going viral”, have a tendency to be quickly forgotten via most followers. threading encourages sprawling conversations to develop from preliminary tweets, favoring steady interaction. This is what human beings like about it, what makes it engaging: it’s miles like texting, but in public, collective context.
Meanwhile, hashtags and trending topics underline the quantity to which all of these protocols are organized across the massification of man or woman voices – a phenomenon cheerfully defined with the aid of users with the technological know-how-fiction concept of the “hive thoughts” – and hype. The regular sweet spot well known is a short duration of ecstatic collective frenzy around any given subject matter. It doesn’t especially matter to the structures what the push is set: the point is to generate statistics, one of the most profitable raw materials but discovered. As within the monetary markets, volatility adds cost. The greater the chaos, the better.
Whether or no longer we assume we are addicted, the gadget treats us as addicts. Addiction is, pretty deliberately, the template for our relationship to the Twittering Machine. Addiction is all approximately attention. For the social media bosses, that is axiomatic.
If social media is a dependancy system, the addictive behavior its miles closest to is gambling: a rigged lottery. Every gambler trusts in some summary symbols – the dots on a cube, numerals, suits, red or black, the graphemes on a fruit system – to inform them who they are. In maximum instances, the solution is brutal and rapid: you are a loser and you’re going home with nothing. The genuine gambler takes a perverse pleasure in anteing up, putting their entire being at stake. On social media, you scratch out a few words, a few symbols, and press ship, rolling the dice. The internet will tell you who you are and what your destiny is thru arithmetic likes, shares, and remarks.
The thrilling question is what it is this is so addictive. In precept, all people can win large; in practice, not all and sundry is gambling with equal odds. Our social media debts are installation like firms competing for interest. If we’re all authors now, we write no longer for money, but for the delight of being examined. Going viral, or trending, is the equal of a windfall. But every so often, prevailing is the worst element which could occur. The temperate weather of likes and approval is apt to break, lightning-brief, into unexpected storms of fury and disapproval.
A 2015 study appeared into the reasons why those who try to end social media fail. The survey statistics came from a collection of individuals who had signed as much as end Facebook for simply ninety-nine days. Many of those decided quitters couldn’t even make the primary few days. And many of folks who effectively give up had to get admission to to every other social networking website, like Twitter so that they had truly displaced their dependancy. Those who stayed away, however, had been normally in a happier frame of mind and much less interested in controlling how different people thought of them, as a result implying that social media dependancy is partly a self-remedy for melancholy and partly a way of curating a better self within the eyes of others. Indeed, those elements won’t be unrelated.