Media as in Hegel

“I hate (social) media!”

“That’s it, I’m logging off and never coming back.” Yet, I am back. Why?

 Yesterday I was scavenging through the depth of my daily Instagram feed update when I came across this post:

My interpretation of it suggested that the task of confessing someone’s feelings wasn’t carried out successfully due to some error that the system encountered. For some reason, it made me deeply sad, not only because a feeling was carried out by a dry, almost meaningless text, but because the media is the new channel through which we convey our feelings. Less words, less empathy, less physical touch, less emotions. But it is so tempting and so much easier at the same time. This endorses the point that media are pervasive, ubiquitous and intimate as learned in class. These sets of characteristics have always made them look unimaginably scary yet extremely attractive to myself. On one hand, I’m siding with the 12-year-old girl I was who decided to switch off everything and actually experienced some sort of small-scale “pop-culture isolation”, as my peers would dive into a whole world I had shut myself out. This feeling of being missing out definitely challenged my resistance, but I hated social media, didn’t I? So why do I need to “resist” something I hate, and that is just one button away to be at least figuratively out of my life? 

When coming about this matter, I always thought what I dreaded was the self-“selling” or self-promoting culture that the media are pushing. We have opportunities to be seen, therefore we want to be seen the most, to the point where we strategies the marketing of our own self, our own life. In a way, this really reminded me of a philosophy lesson I took in high school about the Master-Slave dialectic laid out by Hegel’s Phenomenology of the Spirit: in order to achieve self-consciousness, one has to get through the struggle for freedom. In this context, the slave fulfills the masters’ needs, and holds a subordinate position, until the master realizes that they are actually enslaved as they are dependent on another emancipated individual. This totally resembles how I feel about media: we were media consumers at first, our lives have gotten increasingly easier thanks to media, to the point where we have become enslaved, and media is an entity by itself. At the same time, we are media producers, and therefore media production/consumption is totally and utterly dependent on us. 

This short entry briefly summarizes how I feel about media.


Published by Life in Media

Website dedicated to the Media Life/Life in Media project of Mark Deuze, Professor of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

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