Monday, March 07, 2011

Is Social Network an Oxymoron?

This is why I will always love Lawler--there is no one better on flat souls than him:

So I've been thinking some about the fact that "The Social Network" portrays people--even techno-meritocrats--as worse than they really are.  I've been criticized, of course, for not recognizing the artistry in that approach as a revelation of the emptiness of our time.
One reason I wasn't so impressed by that approach is that it's nothing new.  It was present in the controversial best-seller of the last generation--Allan Bloom'sThe Closing of the American Mind (1987).  Bloom described the smart and sophisticated students he taught at the University of Chicago as having flat souls, by which he meant souls without longing.  And souls without longing, of course, aren't really souls at all.
Bloom described his students as unmoved by loved and death, fit to be competent technical specialists and nothing more.  They were social solitaries, locked up in themselves, the most erotically lame people ever.  They weren't open to God, didn't think of themselves of citizens, didn't have real heroes, and even found it about impossible even to think of themselves as family men and women. Bloom even said that their music was nothing more than the rhythm of mechanical rutting.  Their eros had become that one-dimensional!
And so, of course, they even turned friendship into networking.  The social network, from this view, isn't about real friendship or real social life.  It's about people casually exploiting each other to meet their pedestrian personal needs.  The film seems to confirm Bloom's description by not giving us an example of enduring, trustworthy friendship or enduring love between a man and a woman or of a fairly functional and loving family.
For the complete article visit Big Think here.


Emily said...

Great article. While I am not ready to dump Facebook, mainly because of its aid to my business, I am more and more disillusioned with it. Increasingly, I am seeing the social network's crucial flaws for individuals and society as a whole. Thanks for sharing!

Robin Kent said...

Came upon your site as a neighbor 2 clicks away (next blog). I am new to this blog business, but have found fellow artists whose work I have really appreciated over the years. It's an authentic thrill to be able to communicate with them face to face, so to speak. Guess there's a silver lining to dark clouds if you look for it.
Like the 'bread line' art. Not too far from reality nowadays.