On Literature and Social Media
Social media has some benefits, but it has also set society back considerably. The essence of literature is the eternal. The essence of social media is the ephemeral. The two are somewhat at odds. The former prompts one to meditate deeply and repeatedly on whatsoever is indestructible among inherent impermanence and death. The latter to encounter the next stimulus, the next frisson and fix.
However deep a social media post, most are conditioned by the expectations of the medium to regard it as transient and move on. The deep is leveled with the pedestrian, discarded into that mediatic realm of forgetfulness where the other quintillion posts of the past reside.
Surely literature is varied and can create its own needless desires and problems: but at heart its intentions are eternal. Social media’s intentions, much like a drunkard’s playful gesture at a party, are of the moment.
Using social media as one’s primary literacy medium can breed addiction to fleeting, lowly desires; a centring on the self; voyeurism; unfounded envy and jealousy; distractibility, even ADD; reduced awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, sensations, and other internal processes; and ultimately total belief in one’s small sense of self, in distinction to the other selves populating the pages, and whatever verbal and emotional messages it sends — most actually regurgitations of corporate, governmental, mediatic, and other organizational manipulations; entrenched cultural prejudices; and the utterances of myopic, biased individuals deeply under the zeitgeist’s sway — which one rarely ever observes attentively.
Social media, thus, cannot be a vehicle for new literature, but at best a sounding board for pieces of works in progress and a cistern for re-exposing and rehashing the fine literature of old. The true place of literature is in whatsoever format can create a context for regarding it as a lasting repository of inspiration and wisdom that one can return and refer to repeatedly.
And so too this post will go the way of other social media offerings: regarded for a moment, likely with slack attention, and forgotten as deeply as the curling vestiges of this morning’s dreams.
— Maximus Minimus