So­cial net­work­ing: How to tame the dark side

New me­dia an­a­lyst Mano­lis An­dri­o­takis dis­cusses his lat­est book, which sheds light on the pit­falls and the op­por­tu­ni­ties of vir­tual liv­ing

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY HARRY VAN VERSENDAAL

About a quar­ter of the global pop­u­la­tion is now on Face­book, yet only a small frac­tion seem aware of the world-shat­ter­ing im­pli­ca­tions of this re­al­ity. Face­book and other so­cial me­dia such as Twit­ter, YouTube, In­sta­gram and Snapchat have ir­re­versibly trans­formed the land­scape of hu­man in­ter­ac­tion to an ex­tent that was un­think­able only a few years ago.

They have changed the way we do things.

It’s not all good. In a new book called “Look At Me!” (Iolkos, in Greek), Athens­based jour­nal­ist and new me­dia an­a­lyst Mano­lis An­dri­o­takis dis­cusses the pit­falls of our in­creas­ingly wired world:

So­cial me­dia are in­deed en­gi­neered to dis­tract your at­ten­tion. You need the tools, the crit­i­cal abil­ity and the skills to reg­u­late their use so that you do not end up hostage to them. This book is about tak­ing con­trol. En­gag­ing in so­cial me­dia is not some form of med­i­ta­tion; it’s not some daily habit to which you can let your­self go com­pletely. If you al­low that to hap­pen, you can be com­pletely sucked in. It hap­pens to me too. When­ever I let my de­fenses down, I lapse into ob­ses­sive use that is very hard to es­cape.

Ca­reer-wise it can be a use­ful tool to pro­mote your work, to en­rich and dis­tin­guish your pro­fes­sional iden­tity. But, again, it’s easy to lose fo­cus and indulge in shal­low self-pro­mo­tion. healthy part is rooted in the act of shar­ing, in the need to feel that you are a mem­ber of a larger com­mu­nity, and you want to reach out to peo­ple. Peo­ple can, for ex­am­ple, share a health prob­lem be­cause it could help others pre­vent it.

But there is also a dark side which usu­ally comes in the form of nar­cis­sism, self-pro­mo­tion, or the urge to ma­nip­u­late other peo­ple. I couldn’t say on which side the scale is weighted or whether you can al­ways tell be­tween good and bad.

Likes are the re­sult of a com­plex psy­cho­log­i­cal mech­a­nism. The shal­low, first level is cer­tainly dom­i­nant – par­tic­u­larly on In­sta­gram. How­ever, although the vol­ume of likes is not al­ways a safe indicator of ac­tual value, this is by no means ex­clu­sive to the realm of so­cial net­works. In any case, so­cial me­dia give you the op­por­tu­nity to make so­phis­ti­cated con­tent more ac­ces­si­ble.

No, you are not the same per­son. You con­struct a per­sona. It may even be a bet­ter ver­sion of your­self, a sex­ier, a sharper, more in­ter­est­ing self. Ul­ti­mately, the way you com­mu­ni­cate your mes­sage, the at­ti­tude, of­ten says more about you than the mes­sage.

You might as well be a hyp­ocrite out there in the real world and an hon­est per­son in the vir­tual one. If you wish to con­struct a lie, you can do so in ei­ther world. sor­ship] to get round its “Great Fire­wall.” In Turkey, Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan has re­peat­edly blocked ac­cess to Face­book and Twit­ter. Au­thor­i­tar­ian gov­ern­ments can shut down the in­ter­net or build bot armies. In fact, it looks like the bad guys can make a more ef­fec­tive use of so­cial me­dia. Trump played dirty and he won. The les­son of his cam­paign was that play­ing dirty can be very ef­fec­tive. It’s as if the right to play dirty has been de­moc­ra­tized. The ques­tion is, how can you out­play these guys? It’s a ma­chine of war.

My dig­i­tal de­tox, as it were, helps me pro­tect my men­tal health and my re­la­tion­ships. It helps me re­fo­cus. The in­ter­net feeds ad­dic­tion, grandios­ity, nar­cis­sism. You can­not wipe these out. They ex­ist in all of us, and they ex­ist in me too. The break al­lows me to re­boot and clear my head.

Think be­fore you click. Mano­lis An­dri­o­takis, a self-de­scribed tech op­ti­mist, is wary about the pit­falls of so­cial me­dia. He has just writ­ten a book about this.

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