Friday, January 28, 2011

Just a note on the power of language.

When I first discovered and used email, I was just thrilled with it, for about a period of three weeks. When it dawned on me that I had just discovered a new obligation, I admit I withdrew a bit.

Ditto for cellphones. As a privacy advocate, I've had a hard time convincing myself that there's any real need to carry those damn things around.

I even think answering machines are a bit weird.

Social media is another link in that chain. "No, Mom, I don't want to be facebook friends. Yes, we're still friends."

It occurs to me that one of the more interesting facets of social media is how it seems to map itself on pre-existing deep structures in our brains based on its use of language.

As a thought experiment, imagine a website like facebook that was identical in every way, had the same users, the same popularity, offered the same amount of connectivity in the same format, but instead of connections being labeled as 'friends' they were labeled as, I don't know, say, 'assfaces.'

Instead of 'liking' something or someone, you got to press a button to 'jerk off' to it.

It would change the whole context of it, wouldn't it? But why? Everything else about it is still the same. It should be no different than putting your profile in piratespeak mode for kicks, right?

Anyways, I get that there's research behind this. Reading text simulates having memories. Nothing that new or profound there, perhaps...

It's good to keep in mind, though. These interactions have taken on some dimension of significance that is disappointingly misleading, I think.

1 comment:

  1. I think I know what you mean. We're all just clicking a mouse. If shoes were called assfaces, I'd still wear shoes. It's about need. I don't need icons that represent friends. I pretty much need a pair of shoes. We don't need Facebook. That's what your logic about language here tells me. My cousin will still have a cute baby, whether or not I see a picture of it online. It offers nothing. Well, wait. It did help with some of the uprising in Egypt. I think I gathered that from the news. Well, whatever.