When I was young, I used to imagine a world where technology was so advanced, and houses so well designed, that you’d never have to leave where you lived for your entire life (as if that were a good thing). But it’s close to becoming a real lifestyle choice, if not already adopted, for some, and as I sit here in this ersatz nylon carpet version, I find myself reflecting on its merits.
The thing that sustains us, I realise, is not stimulation – there is loads of that available to be piped into your home, provided you’re not too picky – but autonomous authority; the sense that we’re on our own journey, not somebody else’s.
Why is it that the social media tycoons wish to drive us towards that thing that was my childhood dream – that to live inside your personal bubble, being left to choose exactly how and when and on what terms you might interact with anyone else, is a model of perfection, tempting and tantalisingly close?
I’ll tell you why – just in case you don’t know already. The owners of all the social media products are the most socially awkward people on the planet.
They still think as five-year-old me did, of the safety and perfection of a small secure world in which you are the sole master; a world in which you surrender your stake in the big picture stuff to someone smarter than you. Someone like them. They think that’s what we want too because they can’t imagine anything beyond that which they have worked out to be true.
And why wouldn’t they hold beliefs like these? They are sociopaths, distinguished from the rest of us only in that they were denied the chance to bond with their mothers, or inhale enough oxygen, in the first few crucial moments of life, and thereby condemned to spend the rest of their lives on the edge of society looking in. Remember those kids who you didn’t want to come to your birthday party? Well, they’re billionaires now. They went to their bedrooms, saved their pocket money, and invented an app. I don’t think that they’re necessarily motivated by a need to revenge themselves against the world that rejected them when they were young, more than it is that all that time on their own, reading encyclopaedias, has come to convince of them of the infallibility of their intellectual rectitude.
All it’s really done though, is to have compromised their ability to understand how real people work, so that their attempts to engage with them now are executed with the heavy-handed caprice of a fairy tale king.
I mean, take a look at Elon Musk, you don’t get to look like that without having had an umbilical cord wrapped round your neck during the first few moments of life. This bastion of free speech, who calls people he doesn’t like paedos, and tells them to sue him if they think it’s unfair, has this week declared that only those Twitter accounts clearly marked parody, may actually parody famous people. Oh yes, in his version of free-speech, only sarcasm licensed by him is allowed. It’d be ironic if only he understood how irony works.
And Zuckerberg is so deluded he believes that Facebook users actually are his subjects to do with as he pleases, and that eventually the whole world will have no choice but to sign up with him – because, you know, you can’t get by in life unless you’re connected to a digital network. When he eventually goes bust/to prison he can always not pop round to My Space for the afternoon. I’ll pour a digital cup of tea over his plastic Caesar haircut and give him a taste of reality (TV).
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