on hubris

ayjay has a post on social media and hubris, on the hubris of believing we can engage with twitter, for example, and remain unchanged. it is a good post with much to think on.

is there not another hubris present though? the belief that we can avoid engagement as society changes, the nostalgia of the now being maintainable and desirable?

posit the extreme instance: cave people waiting for the sun so they can hunt before returning to their safe place the next night. that day, fire is invented/created/found/tamed. everyone around the fire that night lives in a different society than the previous night. but, everyone outside the light of the fire is also in a different society, for now there is fire that they shun/avoid/deny.

is twitter/twitch/discord/facebook a social revolution?

i think partially no. social clubs have existed for hundreds or thousands of years based on proximity or interest. it’s the card players, the barbershop, the exercise class. the scrum of parents and children before school and the lingering conversations after the children go into class. in-person class as opposed to self-paced learning. neighbors gossiping over yard work. the water cooler conversation.

i think partially yes. the world is smaller and more connected. supply chains and the internet. i follow social activists in palestine and comedians in scotland. i can hear of a bomb outside the kabul airport more easily than i can find out what the city is doing with the construction three blocks away. i don’t the names of people i have lived next door to for a decade but can remember stories from people i’ve never met in los angeles, johannesburg, frankfurt, moscow, buenos aires.

the world is more connected and we limit that if we shun social media. like all changes, it will alter those who participate, but it also changes the framework of the world for non-participants.

posit the ridiculous instance: facebook is easy, everyone is connected, relationships defined or assumed. i disengaged with little warning, erasing my “content” and removing my account. a year later (two?) i rejoined. the controls are closely examined, permissions are tight, i have a presence but no photo, few connections. it is where i go to get family news because the holiday letter has waned (did it have much value outside that two week window at the end of the calendar year? was it about measuring one’s self against others?) and everyone uses this forum for birth and death announcements. “did you see your cousin’s baby” asks my mother. and if i wasn’t here the answer would be “no.”

part of the problem is that forums/clubs/gatherings require engagement and presence. to think we can engage and remain unchanged is hubris because we are social animals. but to think that social animals can avoid engagement and remain fully human is also hubris.