The characteristic of this youth culture that screams out at me as I watch this documentary is not the desire to be acknowledged, liked, famed or even the very conscious quest for self-expression but the implicit acceptance of the adults who watch over, including the filmmaker/presenter, of the culture of the self. He acknowledges as his general thesis that in the end the kids are out there alone, with only the impression of a community via on-line ‘likes’. However, no where does it seem to be mentioned that this off-kilter definition of self-expression as making-a-noise-to-gain-attention is not at all what ‘self expression’ or ‘a sense of self’ should be:
The heart of this documentary is the teenage quest for acceptance and the great big wide world’s exploitation of that desire.
” […] the value system of likes […] fame by association […] ”
I like the summary point made by the presenter regarding serendipity by design as an Orwellian concept. This very much is an Orwellian concept in that on the surface at least we see people (teenagers) perceiving the impression of free thought, free action and free will but in fact they are part of a ‘controlled brushfire ‘ in which they actually work for free for the marketing companies/interests. However, is this skin deep or does it run through the bloodstream into the heart and mind? Although this sounds sinister I’m not convinced that there is moral dilemma behind it. The Wizard of Oz has presented us this question 3 or 4 generations in the past. Before that, in approx 370BC, Plato addressed state coercion of the implicit control of a citizens education and ideological view. This is not a new topic. Just an updated, more sci-fi inflected, version of an old question.
This leads me to ask two questions: to what extent is the exploitation of a persons behaviour pattern for the success of business a moral dilemma? After all, the more successful the film studio, the more jobs for buddying filmmakers like me and my students, and; to what extent are these teenagers at risk in terms of their visibility to unknown forces i.e. how does the law of unintended consequences apply here in the negative?
Reflecting on my own use of social media, for both personal and professional realms, I can see that for me it is peripheral when it comes to what I would define as my sense of self. I would take this to be the situation for most reasonable adult people. In fact I would like to expand on that and say that as you get older the economy of time kicks in and it is simply useless to pursue as unrewarding a goal as to be popular for popularity’s sake on the internet.
I use the like button and I enjoy seeing photo’s of myself with friends and family. I actually enjoy just seeing photo’s of my friends and family without my self more so than with. This leads me to understand that for me facebook is a window through which to look, and not a doorway through which to step. When I use the like button it is to support a friend or acquaintance or to simply (metaphorically) say “hi, I see you and I acknowledge you, and I love that I know you’.