Craving Attention in the 21st Century: The Significance of Social Media and Science Fiction.

November 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

My newest insta pic only has 66 likes. Do you SEE that creative angle? I was lying on the grass (I was reading in the sun so I was not totally pathetic and desperate) for that angle. Do you SEE that slight color adjustment? Not too much, but just enough for you to truly appreciate that blue sky and green lawn. I had creative hashtags that would draw people in while also using some broader hashtags to appeal to a larger audience (#sky #scenic #nature). I even made sure to delete those hashtags after a few days (I definitely don’t want people to think I am desperate for attention). I might as well have put #desperate if I was being truly honest with myself.

** Username, location and caption have been edited out for my own privacy. **

** Username, location and caption have been edited out for my own privacy. **

My dad calls me pretty regularly, approximately 75% of the time for help with his phone, iPad or really anything that plugs into an outlet. My father is many things: an electrician, a carpenter, a chef, a jack-of-all-trades. Unfortunately, he is anything but technologically literate. Born long enough ago to have been drafted for the Vietnam War (He would probably be mad if I ever posted his true age for the world to see), he frequently recounts what he thought the future would look like and how hard it was growing up in the ancient days (He would probably claim to have walked six miles in the snow to school like any other stereotypical old people if he hadn’t grown up in Miami).

His dreams of the future saw technology revolutionizing the world, not supporting the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook that feed on the new generation’s narcissism and dependence on social approval for value.

For most of its existence, science fiction was a genre outside of mainstream consumption that depended largely on pulp magazines to cheaply circulate the stories. Unfortunately, the terms “science fiction” and “sci-fi” often conjure up judgmental images of young prepubescent boys on the outskirts of society. In a way, science fiction was for the socially inept or awkward. It was literature for cheap paper and obscure magazines. A positive change in the 21st century has been a larger acceptance of science fiction, largely due to blockbuster hits. Science fiction is becoming exciting, dramatic and mainstream.

But, becoming more popular and circulated opens it up for more influence from this new technologically narcissistic generation. I freely admit that I have been guilty of this exact issue. When I started writing for this blog I wrote from a creative part of my heart that simply wanted to entertain anyone willing to give my stories attention. I really didn’t use too many hashtags, just enough to convey what my story was about. I wanted creative titles that would confuse or intrigue the reader.

And then I realized I could see how much traffic my posts were generating.

Every week I checked to see if my stories, articles and posts had new views and comments. My hastags started to get more specific and numerous. My titles started to reflect more what someone would enter into a search engine. I noticed that the most “successful” post had a title along the lines of “the significance of . . .” and realized that people had a reason to type that into Google. People cared about that answer.

When I think of science fiction I think of it being a sort of social commentary that incorporates real issues with a focus on technology, space exploration and the like. That is what I had wanted to do but not what I ended up necessarily doing. I had let my own egoism and dependence on attention for self-esteem and value that I had strayed from my creative goals and aspirations. I was a sell out.

This is not to say that all of my entries have fallen for this social media pitfall. I poured my heart and soul into a blog post about the dangers of genetic engineering. I spent hours writing a story about evolution. But, I am human and I make mistakes. I look back on my blogging career and see those lapses in judgment where I sought attention for my articles.

Much of science fiction is about technology and yet I let the technology control me. I was no longer the one reinventing technology or predicting the social implications of existing technology. I was letting technology reinvent my creative process.

So, maybe some of you will have some sort of homework assignment that asks you to discuss the significance of social media. Or, maybe the significance of science fiction as an “emerging” genre. So, you guys hop on the computer and search “the significance of . . .” in a search engine and my article pops up. I hope you all click on the article and read it. Not for views, comments and likes, but maybe to learn from my own experience and realize that technology is a tool that you use, not a tool that uses you.

– S. Jamison

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