What’s become a kind of Twitter experiment has, for me, ended up a most revealing exercise.
Twitter does play on addictive hormone-related impulses of the brain, of that I am sure. From an almost 2000-follower account (@eiohel) I have slipped into the backwaters of a 66-follower account (@zebrared) (and what’s more, around ten of these being those spam accounts Twitter no longer sees fit to eliminate).
Interactions – and the buzz you get when you do interact, when such interactions drill into your grey cells and occupy them with almost the same persistence austerity protestors might exhibit – no longer tug at me, no longer drag me back to my computer or smartphone, no longer make me feel I’m missing out on the knowledge, which isn’t power, that is the environment of social networks these days.
Yes. This is what the 21st century has done to knowledge – it is so prevalent, so widespread, so available to our tapping and swiping digital extensions (in both the binary and flesh-and-blood senses) that it adds not power to our existences but, rather, a certain and ever-growing fragility. It’s funny. These past few weeks that I have been weaned off @eiohel … I feel stronger in my ignorance, not weaker through my absence.
If the revolution, whether constructive or destructive, is ever to take place, it will only take place when social networks are taken away from us. Not because such software beasts allow our lords and masters to lord over and master us more, though: no, knowledge of what we say and do always existed; manipulation always existed; discombobulation was always present, ever since the instinct to government crept out of the sea and emerged fully formed in our lives. Instead, much more, social networks serve to rid us of the desire to take to the streets, because precisely in the daily revelation of truth and its terribly sad underbellies we consider that we have become more than those who would rule over us (who do, in fact, rule over us). Through believing that our knowledge somehow gives us the edge in a world where knowledge is manifestly a sop and not power, it clearly doesn’t make for a society where right is might at all.
Don’t care to believe me? Consider this: we live in a century where more information about the bad things powerful people do, more than ever before circulates fairly unstoppably. And yet, in my anecdotal view admittedly, there are more bad powerful people visibly in charge, and visibly unstoppable themselves, than a similar ever before ever displayed in front of us.
We know so much more for sure than this ever before, and yet the only thing this knowledge is achieving – it seems to me – is to freeze our former natural cynicism in the aspic of proof: essentially, subconsciously even, leading us to conclude there is nothing we can do in the face of such overwhelming evidence.
Except, perhaps, in the thrall of a terrible technological drug, moan addictively about it.
No. Knowledge isn’t power any more. Ignorance is power.
If, that is, we can work out how to recover such ignorance.