Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dear Future Generations,

So you've just got out of class. Your teacher told you to write an essay on How Social Media Shaped the World of the 2010's. I, as a citizen of the year 2013, have your answer.
Not in the way you think. You've talked about the riots organized on twitter, the facebook campaigns, the political scandal rumors that spread via youtube. You've read about how the brightest minds of this world met in philosophy forums to ponder the great ethical questions facing humanity. How 4chan did for us what coffee shops did for Isaac Newton and Voltaire.
That's not what happened. Twitter is dirty jokes, instagram is people taking pictures of their food, facebook is where people go to whine about their lives, and youtube? None of these people who drop comments can spell. Or think, for that matter. You click on a video that has nothing to do with government or America and the top comment is about the American government. Every word is spelled wrong. And right below that is a lengthy response with proper grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. The last line is, "I apologize for any grammar errors. I'm Brazilian."
You've talked about the viral videos. We hate those. Especially anything featuring cats.
Those essay prompts your teacher gave you. The posts that generated thousands of responses within the hour. The ones written by social media mavens. They don't exist. Or at least, they might as well not, because they're outnumbered by the millions of other posts. The ones that will be nameless, faceless, and forgotten by the time you're born. Posts like this one. Blogging is the digital equivalent of ripping a page from your diary, stuffing into a bottle, and tossing it into the sea.
The ones that make it survive not because of quality or intelligence, but luck. A cat video goes viral not because the owners happened to catch something cute on camera. It's because msn or yahoo picked it up, declared it news, and put it next to the latest devastation report from Syria.
As a blogger, it's frustrating to know that I'll be forgotten in your time. Nothing I say actually matters. The sneezing baby panda on youtube, however, will live on forever. Those famous twitter excerpts in your textbooks-if you still have textbooks-do not tell the whole story. And be grateful for that. There is more stupidity on the Internet than could ever be imagined or comprehended by any one person. More people take to the forums to mock Stephenie Meyer and Justin Bieber than to discuss philosophy. Shipping wars are more intense than political debates. People just aren't happy unless they're arguing.
We live in a rapidly changing world. I am well aware of that. Some good change, some bad change, but most of it not important at all. History is deeper and wider than you can imagine. There are so many voices you will never hear.

P.S.: When your teacher scolds you for not spending enough time on your essay you can tell her I wrote this in eighteen minutes. 

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