Potential Social Media Suicide: My reaction to Arielle Pardes’ “I Am Immeasurable: My Life Online – Without All the Metrics”
I’m sitting here, on my “off” day today – a day after a partner’s holiday party, a long yet productive work week, one where I hustled my ass off to close a contract with an amazing talent – and finally had time to peruse an issue of WIRED…from March 2019!
If you’d read my article from last week, you’d know that yes, I’m still a slow reader. I don’t have as much time as I’d like built into my schedule for creative synapses to get a workout with such activities as reading, or let’s say, for instance, working on (three!) novels. It’s reality, and I have no choice to be alright with that…for now.
So, I’m extremely engrossed in the ever-changing world of social media, and am attempting to situate myself as the “Social Media Guy,” that as I began to type this up, I caught myself before I added a slew of pound symbols to words I’d normally identify as keywords on social media platforms. Need more sleep, much?
Jumping right in, I was mortified at first when I began reading an article by Ariel Pardes. Oh Jesus, girl, why would you want to go silent on social media? was my first thought. So, without further ado, I’m going to share a snippet of said piece, then add my two cents to close this thought out.
Pardes boldly starts out by saying, “Social Media is a death carousel, and by the start of the new year, I wanted off. National policy and news stories continued to be steered by the tweets and retweets of @realDonaldTrump. A photo of an egg had surpassed 30 million likes on Instagram. Children were eating laundry detergent and setting themselves on fire in exchange for followers. The phrase ‘late-stage capitalism’ was appearing everywhere.”
I rolled my eyes immediately, but then, similarly to the women in the meme where on one side, she offers a grotesque face, then on the other side, her eyes widen in contemplation, I was suckered in. Okay, missy, what have you got to offer?
First off, Pardes isn’t the first journalist, or even social media manager for that matter, to threaten to leave social for good. From March to this month, now November, social media content has gotten even worse. Starting with laundry detergent (Okay, that was gross…but if it was a marketing stunt, even I have to admit there was something clever there, and those little squares do look tasty… Oh please, as if you hadn’t thought about it before!) to detrimentally expensive political content that’s being questioned daily, social media content is easy to get caught up in and sometimes, is hard to hop off on a high note.
Pardes continues, “So I purged. Not the social media accounts, but the numerical machinery powering them. Likes. Retweets. Views. Followers. Subscribers. The metrics by which the words, photos, videos – what’s known, in toto, as content – are made valuable. I installed a series of browser extensions that promised to leave the content intact but expunge those boldface, sexy, ubiquitous numbers that cluttered and dominated my feeds.”
I’ve been taught, and self-taught, and educated on the fact that content requires to reap likes, retweets, views, followers, and yes, even subscribers. To this day, I tell clients, “It’s not about the numbers, but…it’s about the numbers. You feel me?” Then I proceed to offer explanation on how my team and I plan on attacking an evolved voice and grow a persona from the ground up.
However, there is something so say about the notion of simply sharing content – unfiltered, organic, personal content – for the sake of sharing content…not to get likes, retweets, views, followers, or even a paid partnership. That’s a refreshing idea to mull over, don’t you think? If we simply lived our lives on social the way we so desperately think we live them from day-to-day, we’d be much happier.
But, then how would capitalism work and run its course? The Kardashian-Jenner crews of the world would be nothing, because although I think they, and other celebrities, linked-up with smart managers and run tight business models, there’s no substance once the iron curtain gets peeled back.
And let’s be honest, do we really want to hear blasé opinions and see makeup-less appendages not holding cans of popular beverages? No. The world of social media would fall to ruins within days.
I digress again…
So, Pardes, right… She manages to explain how she dropped the numbers and says, “My guide to denumeration was Benjamin Grosser, an artist and assistant professor of new media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Grosser builds little UX hacks for liberating Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from the hegemony of hearts, notifications, and follows. Install one of his extensions, log on, and you’ll find the room looks the same – but the curtains and crown molding have disappeared.”
So, is Grosser the “great and powerful” OZ in this situation?
Personally, I don’t buy it. We live for justification. And, admittedly, so do I. We’re too deep down the rabbit hole.
Please like and share this article. It will help me to sleep better tonight.