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Twitter Users Ponder What Their Favourite Twitter Moment Of 2020 Was

By Petr Knava | Social Media | December 29, 2020 |

By Petr Knava | Social Media | December 29, 2020 |


In ‘The Twittering Machine’, his harrowing account of the mass psychology behind the rise of social media in general and Twitter in particular, author Richard Seymour describes how we all fall prey to a system that we are simultaneously complicit in propping up:

The Twittering Machine may be a horror story, but it is one that involves all of us as users. We are part of the machine, and we find our satisfactions in it, however destructive they may be. And this horror story is only possible in a society that is busily producing horrors. We are only up for addiction to mood-altering devices because our emotions seem to need managing, if not bludgeoning by relentless stimulus. We are only happy to drop into the dead-zone trance because of whatever is disappointing in the world of the living. Twitter toxicity is only endurable because it seems less worse than the alternatives. “No addiction,” as Francis Spufford has written, “is ever explained by examining the drug. The drug didn’t cause the need. A tour of a brewery won’t explain why somebody became an alcoholic.”

Author Shoshana Zuboff also touches on this topic, producing an account of the totalitarian tendencies of social media in her book, ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power’, writing how:

Our dependency is at the heart of the commercial surveillance project, in which our felt needs for effective life vie against the inclination to resist its bold incursions. This conflict produces a psychic numbing that inures us to the realities of being tracked, parsed, mined, and modified. It disposes us to rationalize the situation in resigned cynicism, created excuses that operate like defense mechanisms (“I have nothing to hide”), or find other ways to stick our heads in the sand, choosing ignorance out of frustration and helplessness. In this way, surveillance capitalism imposes a fundamentally illegitimate choice that twenty-first century individuals should not have to make, and its normalization leaves us singing in our chains.

And to throw ONE MORE wordy quote on top of the pile (it’s Christmas, I must be feeling generous), here’s academic Nick Srnicek in his ‘Platform Capitalism’ on why we can’t really expect anything else from the business interests that run social media:

These are not asset-less companies - far from it; they spend billions of dollars to purchase fixed capital and take other companies over. Importantly, ‘once we understand this [tendency], it becomes clear that demanding privacy from surveillance capitalists or lobbying for an end to commercial surveillance on the Internet is like asking Henry Ford to make each Model T by hand’. Calls for privacy miss how the suppression of privacy is at the heart of this business model. This tendency involves constantly pressing against the limits of what is socially and legally acceptable in terms of data collection. For the most part, the strategy has been to collect data, then apologise and roll back programs if there is an uproar, rather than consulting with users beforehand. This is why we will continue to see frequent uproars over the collection of data by these companies.

All true. Social media is indeed a hellscape of epic proportions. It’s also so much dammed fun! Doom-scrolled fun onboard the Titanic. A way of collectively coping with the trauma that comes with living through a late stage capitalist climate dystopia. So in that spirit, here’s a thread of Twitter users pondering some of their favourite moments on the social media site over the last 78 months that have made up 2020:

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Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.

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