Bio: Tyler McNally, Freelance Photographer, @Redtography
Synopsis: How can something as ubiquitous as social media be ‘anti social’? This is a question that has
dominated my thinking over the last three months as I tried to cobble together a piece that best
reflects my opinions on the subject. I found it easy to find single points of reference such as
obsessive compulsive checking of smart phones or the quagmire of online dating but even then I
knew I was missing something. What many will prefer us to think is that social media is ‘anti social’
because ‘anti social’ people use it or something else of equally individualistic or meaningless value.
The reason I say this is because social media is a part of our everyday life, Facebook receives millions
of photographs every second, more people than ever are preferring to use online dating sites such
as OKCupid and Plenty of Fish to find a potential loved one, we are even seeing people become
celebrities purely through their use of Twitter or Youtube. Social media is even a tool that has helped
topple oppressive governments, such as those of Egypt and Tunisia. How can this tool that has such
varied applications be ‘Anti Social’?
People often treat social media and cyberspace in general as something outside the material world,
that it is a separate entity in which we take part in and enjoy as an escape pod from a material
reality of Sexism, Homophobia, Austerity, Capitalism and Alienation. Others see Facebook and
Twitter as hives of Misogynistic and Sexist abuse, such as the abuse people like Anita Sarkeesian and
Laurie Penny have faced on Twitter for being outspoken supporters of Feminism and Women’s
Rights. Social media hasn’t set us free from our own personal worlds, it’s a reflection of our world
and it is very anti social.
We live in a world where people are jailed for being homeless as Millionaires and Billionaires buy
Governments but avoid Taxation. Women are told they can’t have reproductive rights, that they are
to blame for Rape, they are told to aspire to impossible levels of ‘beauty’ by buying make up and
perfume, to wear clothes that make them attractive to Men, only to be labelled as ‘Sluts’ or
‘Whores’ for doing so.
Pornography shapes our sexual desires and Religious Moralism shapes our sexual education. Tinder
tells us to choose our dates by how good their picture is, OKCupid and Plenty of Fish will help you
find a partner, provided you are prepared to pay for it and take out premium memberships which
basically allow you to stalk people without getting caught. Cinema tells us that Women find love
through fairy tale-esque Princes who fall in love at first glance and tell Men that they’ll find love
through hyper masculinity and rock hard abs.
Before Smartphones, we went to Nightclubs and drank to avoid dealing with alienation and anxiety.
Now we sit on phones, post ‘Selfies’ and spend so much time telling Facebook we’re having a great
time that we forget the company we keep. Our World is anti social, and it will remain anti social so
long as it is profitable for the wealthy and this is why social media is anti social. They’d rather we
were anti social than Anti Capitalist; Our ‘Killing Joke’