I agree with Levi Bryant’s recent post on the matter of cynicism. We have every reason to be skeptical of social media. There is no doubt that ideolgical and capitalistic motives lie behind the arguments for social media. Hell, in most cases, such motives are front and center. Should we be skeptical of Instagram or Facebook or Coursera? I think so. But should we be skeptical about the premise of networked sociality in itself? Or should we be looking to adapt/invent practices for this environment? Levi writes that as a result of cynicism “We thus strangely find ourselves in the same camp as the climate change denialists, the creationists who use their skepticism as a tool to dismiss evolutionary theory, and those that would treat economic theories as mere theories in the pejorative sense and continue to hold to their neoliberal economics despite the existence of any evidence supporting its claims. We critique everything and yet leave everything intact.” It’s a bold argument perhaps, as it equates what we imagine as the height of intellectual behavior (critique) as functionally equivalent to some of the more blantant examples of what we would term anti-intellectualism. However, I think the same thing could be said for our treatment of social media.
Let’s face it. “Publishing” one’s work in a print journal that languishes on a dusty shelf in an academic library is a fairly minimal definition of making something public. So the real issue here is that we are simply not accustomed to our work being discussed in public. Ever. Period.