On Social Media and the Culture of Positivity
In my political economy class, we questioned whether social media messages themselves actually are important, or whether its only the participation that counts. Many agreed that the messages do indeed matter, and that social media networks are specifically designed to promote messages to positivity. Examples include the long lambasted lack of a “dislike” button on Facebook, or the action to “heart” a tumblr or twitter post, rather than down vote it.
What are the implications of these social media structures, and what are their impact? Upon reflection, I found that these social media structure supported a false consciousness of positivism, one that is perhaps best represented by the success of the trash book The Secret, which properties that the power of positive thinking is the key to success. Of course, this culture of positivism shifts one away from political praxis, especially in regards to the 2008 financial crisis. Nah, it wasn’t the banks fault or wall street, you just weren’t thinking positively enough!
This mindset is particularly proliferated on finance blogs targeted towards millennials. Lifehacker, NerdWallet, The Simple Dollar, Get Rich Slowly, these and many more perpetuate the myths that you can easily start-up revenue on the side, and that your poverty is merely a result of your own laziness. Particularly egregious is Lifehacker’s “Complete Guide to Making Money in Your Spare Time“, which not only includes such scams as Slice the Pie (where your make pennies for your intellectual work), but illustrates all to clearly that, whether from an audience commodity perspective or a biopolitical perspective, we are always working. The culture of positivity merely papers over this fact, districting us from the real political work to end human alienation.