Those old enough to remember the AIDS crisis in New York City will recall a ubiquitous public service announcement poster: SILENCE = DEATH.
The viral campaign drew parallels between the Nazi period and the AIDS crisis, declaring that “silence about oppression and annihilation of gay people, then and now, must be broken as a matter of survival.”
It is in this spirit – if not with the same visceral threat to the spread of near-certain death (although even that may be up for debate) – that I propose a companion PSA sticker:
SOCIAL MEDIA = STRESS.
Social media billionaires would like you to think that more time online will make the world a safer, more democratic place, and lead to happier more informed social and consumer choices.
Not so. As President Obama elegantly said in his farewell address to the nation, “The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.”
Consider this from Time magazine. In an article published Feb. 17, the Old Media giant reports: “Virality is a David myth obscuring the fact that the Internet is [still] run by Goliaths.” (Those are my brackets on ‘still,’ which Time editors should have axed; I mean are we proposing that there stands a ghost of a chance that the Internet will ever NOT be run by Goliaths?)
This reportage lets print readers in on a little secret. These facts are done by social science-based (read not business, rather nonpartisan information providers who can no longer feel sanguine about continued federal funding) organizations regarding how going viral is a myth perpetrated by those who would have us devote more and more time to social media.
So look for it – SOCIAL MEDIA = STRESS. Or better yet, get your nose out of your phone and breathe a little. Like the bearded guy from those old Men’s Wearhouse ads says, “You’ll like the way you look, I guarantee it.”
Next: Running for Your Life: It’s Spring Already