In what ways do online spaces co-opt personal expression?

In a sense, digital social platforms homogenize personal individuality as much as they amplify and incentivize it.

One of the most interesting contradictions of the ‘digital revolution’ is how big tech endlessly promise better tools to express our creativity, individuality, and unique voice in the world…

…as we are happily baited into using platforms and devices that funnel an increasing scope of our human experience into the homogenizing, universalizing portfolio of a ‘user.’

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We are known by what we know

What do religions, comic books, fashion, politics, entertainment, academics, and sports all have in common?

They are shared. They are the platforms and lexicons of our conversations. They are ways of knowing and being known.

The sports commentator and the preacher offer interpretation. The foreign policy expert, the talking head, and the opinion-maker — they are all like the weather we live in: they provide the prompts, cues, and insights to narrate our discourse. The exploits of the hero and the controversies of the politician shape the substrate of our informal conversations.

What do religions, comic books, politics, entertainment, academics, and sports all have in common? They are languages. They are the domains where we achieve rank and status. They give us ways to know each other, opportunities to predict the future together, spaces to analyze the world collectively, and opportunities to demonstrate our expertise to one another.

They allow us to be known by what we know.

What do religions, comic books, fashion, politics, entertainment, academics, and sports all have in common? They provide the ground for what it means for a group of us to define ourselves as ‘us.’ It’s not they are all the same thing — but they all share something in common.

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