Zygmunt Bauman: “Social media are a trap”

Ricardo de Querol, El Pais, Jan 25, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

There's a lot to protest, says Zygmunt Bauman, but protest has been ineffective in the social media age, an age in which in which "all agreements are temporary, fleeting, and valid only until further notice" (this reminds me of an interview I heard on the weekend to the effect that the impact of Uber is that companies will feel free to flout regulations simply by saying they don't apply. Part of the problem, he says, is that social media protests lack leaders, so "they cannot convert their sense of purpose into action." In effect, "The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you... people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice." Zygmunt Bauman is a force, but I don't agree with his analysis here. True, the social contract (such as it is) is dissolving, but I don't think social networks are the cause. Creating change is no longer about forcing your will on to a recalcitrant community, it's about creating alternatives through networks of associations. More: Bauman Institute.

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