Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Social Media Prostitute

    A woman in desperate circumstances decides to work as a prostitute for one year. She looks ahead and sees herself producing a show of being concerned about the erotic responses to her of 500 men.

She wants the men to give her money, so in that respect she is truly concerned. She does not otherwise respond to the men.

Imagine now the same woman telling the story in the social media of her one year of adventure as a prostitute.

500 people respond to her story with personal comments. When she continues telling the story she can't incorporate all the responses equally. She can however create a model in her mind of the kind of thing her audience likes in general.

At this point, when she broadcasts the next installment, her story telling begins to resemble the imitative displays made during the acts of prostitution told of. She's producing a show of being concerned with the response of her 500 contacts, has no opportunity to be concerned with any one individual response.

Even if all 500 in the audience were originally personal friends, friends for whom her response once was individually composed, that no longer is the case.

She wants them to give her their attention, so in that respect she is truly concerned. She does not otherwise respond to the audience.

Contacts in the social media are not only not personal, they are discontinuous. Contacts are the recipients of broadcasts. They are not friends, followers, connections, are not relationships maintained over time and space, but momentary contacts established, lost, re-established.

No story can develop between prostitute and customer. Stories are about particular people in particular circumstances responded to by particular people in particular circumstances. Similarly, there can be no story between broadcaster and 500 recipients.

Politicians speak to the electorate like social media broadcasters. They tell kinds of stories calculated to receive a positive response.

Votes are choices between stories. And not any kind of stories: only stories of impersonal relations between people, rich and poor, settled or newly arrived. There is no personal connection between politician and citizen. The citizen cannot know what kind of person the politician is, cannot know what the politician will do once in office, cannot know who he is as a person when he is not broadcasting.

When though the stories told are personal, are about what the storyteller conceives to be a good life for an individual, the entire audience, to the extent it shares that ideal, is responded to, and can get an idea what the storyteller might do in his own life.