Unfollow, The Age of Social Media, & Us
If you read my review for Unfollow #16 this week, then you know that this one was one of my favorite for a number of reasons. Mainly because of how strongly this issue spoke to the current state of the world around us during the age of social media. This age is both a blessing and a curse which I think Rob Williams address perfectly as Unfollow takes great pleasure in hitting us with the blunt truth about the way it has taken over our lives.
What I loved most about that issue of Unfollow was that it made sense of the biggest problem we suffer from social media. You get what you want, do what you want, and get away with what you like because?…. “We have more followers than you”. That quote right there from the Akira app was simple, and yet it had so much power in truth. These days it’s not just who screams loudest that is heard. The person who takes the stage is the one who has the most followers. As unfortunate as that sounds, it is just how it works. For Unfollow #16 they took this truth to new heights through the concept of the Akira app. A voice from beyond the grave that was just as it sounds. The man is dead, but people hung onto his word so hard that they would believe these automated messages and voice telling them how they should live their lives. That is what it means right now to cling onto certain individuals who you somehow choose to be your voice because you feel that you yourself can’t be heard. Its desperate times and Rob Williams swoops right in with the reality check of what that does to you when turning to someone else as a source of hope.
When looking at the age of social media, that world of Unfollow genuinely reflects ours even if we haven’t yet gotten around to the curse of that world that we would find familiar. Not too long ago I stumbled across the story of PewDiePie, or Felix Kjellberg, and what happened when the wrong joke blew up in his face whether he meant it or not (Clearly he didn’t). Obviously anti-semitic jokes never sell well on something widely viewed or on TV. I watched the video where he makes his response to backlash, and it got me thinking. I mean nobody is perfect, but you always must remember that people like him are just people. Having all these followers can be a curse when you are under a microscope and every action of yours can be criticized. Even criticized to the point where you are taking any chance to bring that person down, which I never agree with unless we’re talking about Trump. What I took from the way he presented himself without the character he created or effect was someone who isn’t just the measure of how many people view his videos or follow him. I should mention that I’ve maybe only seen one or two videos from this guy. At that time he just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I could recognize that this is his passion and what he enjoys making a living doing.
That is what we tend to ignore when even without the screw up there are those out there who make it their mission to tear someone successful down. It’s not just media, this is people as a whole. We talk about this generation being sensitive and what not, yet that is not the whole truth. The real problem is that everyone in their own way is quite petty and cruel. Especially looking at those who have made their presence known through social media. A solid comic creative team that isn’t meeting expectation from readers might find themselves shoved to the back and told by others to ignore. A music artist, tv actor/actress and so forth might find themselves the butt of the new trend of memes for just the slightest flaw. It might make them relevant for a good while, but people are clearly ignoring the work they do for that joke or critique. You also forget that hurting those people also hurts the people who work with them and for them who are losing out on a good job. No one has too much popularity or wealth that they are untouchable.
I could take a proper example of those who do it wrong and choose Trump, but that is too easy. Lets take someone like Milo Yiannopoulos who creates this image of himself as ‘The internet’s most fabulous villain’. This isn’t someone you simply dislike because he is a Trump supporter or gay. The problem with someone like this is what he does with those followers. That personality and image of himself is not how you go about getting your voice heard. I’ve looked at his page and for the most part I cringe because every post is an instigation. And why does he get away with it? Not because he is right, but because he has more followers who will defend what he says or might even follow for the entertainment.
Taking a step back, I remember back in the days where I would blog. In that community of bloggers it was easy to see how the people who were revered as having more importance were those who had the most followers who would actually go out of their way to read their posts and hear out their opinions. I was one of those who fought for the followers, every single one of those 4000+ and I’m sure if I checked back to that inactive account it may have jumped 5000+ just from randoms looking for a follow-back.
When we are talking about the age of social media and us, that has to mean us actually taking advantage of the opportunities this gives us to further ourselves, each other, and actually make a difference in the world. All I ever see when I sign on is where we have gone wrong. There is no denying the good, but that is all easily overshadowed by the things we waste our time doing for the sake of what we might as well call anarchy. At some point we have to be able to evolve from this age and say to ourselves that we didn’t waste what advancements this period of time gave us. The world cannot fall to the idea that “We have more followers than you” gives you power.