Whenever I log into TikTok, I am bombarded with a barrage of scantily dressed bodies, vulgar language and pranks verging on assault, all fascinating but somewhat unsolicited, and I can’t help but wonder if the priority is me, or if it is my attention.
Colloquially, we speak of cognitive dissonance in such terms as being in two minds. The dictionary defines it as the mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes. I would hazard a guess that it is a term symbiotic with many a narrative of prolonged social media interaction.
I first started using Facebook in 2009, and almost right off the bat I was struck by the ease with which I could connect with people all over the world. I even managed to find a new Aunt; I have no recollection of this woman, neither does my mother - her sister, but supposedly she held me when I was ye years old, so… that’s something! Since 2009, I have seen social media evolve to the point where it has a direct influence on many of the spheres that modern life revolve around. Commerce is one such example. Facebook, for instance, in addition to providing jobs for thousands and lining the public coffers with significant tax revenue, is now a marketplace on par with eBay - that faded old Brobdingnagian of our youth.
Twitter has morphed into something of a customisable news outlet that, as we witnessed in the dying days of President Trump’s tenure, is ‘wholly dedicated’ to extinguishing fake news. Besides, social media is a goldmine of artistic expression. I have seen Instagrams and TikToks that would have made the Van Gogh’s and Da Vinci’s of yesteryear pause to draw breath. Factor in, also, the blogging and photo sharing propensities of social media, coupled with its innovative text and gaming features and it is easy to see why we cling on to this twenty-first-century wonder.
Whenever I log into TikTok, I am bombarded with a barrage of scantily dressed bodies, vulgar language and pranks verging on assault, all fascinating but somewhat unsolicited, and I can’t help but wonder if the priority is me, or if it is my attention. Social media is a business modelled around an attention-craving algorithm. The time we spend plugged in, the clicks and interactions we make, all translate into revenue. There are times that I wish I could claw back the hours (which never feel like hours) spent scrolling through a plethora of mind-numbing “content”. I have to confess, I’ve logged off to log back in enough times now to strip the act of any and all surprise. Part of me worries that scrolling has become a bit of an addiction...