When Clay Shirky says this quote, I think he’s expressing his joy of finally breaking out of being controlled. Of course this doesn’t mean that corporations, the government, producers, institutions, organizations, etc., are just going to up and disappear, but it’s a start. Shirky uses the music industry as an example, “We can see signs of this in many places: the music industry, for one, is still reeling from the discovery that the reproduction and distribution of music, previously a valuable service, is now something their customers can do for themselves” (23). The barriers have collapsed and now consumers don’t necessarily have to deal with producers to get the product they want.
Shirky believes groups are a big part of helping people get out of this control. “Newly capable groups are assembling, and they are working without the managerial imperative and outside the previous strictures that bounded their effectiveness. These changes will transform the world everywhere groups of people come together to accomplish something, which is to say everywhere” (Shirky 24). Groups are coming together and working together and are able to now that institutions, organizations, etc., have been taken down a notch. They’re trying to accomplish a bigger change for everyone everywhere for the better.
One way for these groups to break control is by sharing via social media. As chapter 2 explains how people shared their photos of an annual festival, called the Mermaid Parade, on a social media website, Flickr. Thousands of pictures were shared. People everywhere were able to enjoy and view these pictures just by searching the tag “mermaidparade” (32–33). This shows how a group of people were able to break out of being controlled. Social media has proven to be very effective new media.
Marshall McLuhan speaks of technology as new media and how it will amputate and numb us in “The Gadget Lover: Narcissus as Narcosis”, “The selection of a single sense for intense stimulus, or of a single extended, isolated, or ‘amputated’ sense in technology, is in part the reason for the numbing effect that technology as such has on its makers and users” (71) as well as “Any invention or technology is an extension or self-amputation of our physical bodies” (72). The fact that people are so obsessed with technology and make it an extension of their self means that they will become numb. Being glued to technology, like social media, will amputate our minds and numb us from our surroundings. Social media has its benefits in helping break barriers and overcome being controlled but it has its consequences too.
Hans Magnus Enzensberger states, “For the first time in history, the media are making possible mass participation in a social and socialized productive process the practical means of which are in the hands of the masses themselves” (262). Of course he was talking about radio and television but if you replace it with our current new media, social media, it’s still accurate and true. Social media has made mass participation in the productive process possible. Social media is literally in the hands of the masses and they are speaking loud and clear and making a difference. Enzensberger endorses this idea by saying, “The new media are oriented towards action, not contemplation; towards the present, not tradition. Their attitude to time is completely opposed to that of bourgeois culture, which aspires to possession, that is to extension in time, best of all, to eternity” (265). People are using social media for action to break control; to separate themselves from corporations, institutions, etc. What people say and do now will forever be permanent and everlasting as you cannot completely take anything off the internet once it has been there.