We are forming the first steps of a true digital culture. This implies systematic mismatches between available technologies, especially interface technologies, with the actual use of devices.
The simplest way to deal with the coexistence between creative and destructive diversity of new expressive media is to establish codes of conduct. But this is also the least intelligent and most normative way of approaching what is still new and which therefore has undetermined transformative potency.
One of the most curiously consolidated informal rules on social media is the commandment: “don’t read the comments”. This rule has a differential incidence that allows, indirectly, to understand with whom we are interacting.
If you act as an individual, with your first name and private history exposed on your timeline, comments are the pretext for the development of a conversation. They contain real questions, concrete opinions and social manifestations of support or redress. All this within the “sincere lies” that define our social comedy.
Failing to read and consequently failing to respond can mean indifference, neglect or even a confused life or detachment from digital media.
But this can be more or less detected by the intensity of use and type of intervention. Every day, once in a while or almost never. Announcements, invitations or congratulations. Songs, inspirational phrases or memes. Children’s, feline or culinary portraits. Travel, selfies or objects.
Not reading the comments in this context is inattention, abuse and even potential affront. Not liking, or not speaking up, can itself be a manifestation of disapproval. Silence, in private life, becomes a sign of affective or relational discontinuity.
But as the digital space was being occupied by institutions, communities and mainly by business grammar and corporate geography, the things we said “in family” and “among friends” were mixed with our ways of saying professionally, politically and virtually. public.
Today, from old professionals to new entrepreneurs, through those who are self-employed and even those who are being “crushed” by platforms, everyone who is inactive or poorly positioned in the digital world is in a difficult situation in terms of job recognition, employability or even sales potential.
Those who don’t like to expose themselves, the shy, those who prefer to read other people’s comments and follow the “digital bullshit” as spectators, find themselves increasingly oppressed by a culture of compulsory sociability and even hampered by low “visibility” of its guidelines, its purposes and its services.
Here, reading and responding to comments is almost a moral obligation, if you are an institution, which needs social network “articulators”, permanently monitoring potential image damage.
For sales professionals, or anyone who “hunts for food,” comments can tell key sales contacts and unusual occasions for new business.
For those who want to increase their engagement on the networks, the dedication to commenting on comments, responding to criticism and celebrating praise is, in the medium term, a winning strategy.
If things were like that, well divided, between public and private use of networks, it would be easy to organize and understand the conversation. But the novelty here lies precisely in the confusion and hybridization of the modes of use.
Your dear aunt might make a disastrous comment at that department meeting. Conversely, your high school friend pulls that wallet usually constituted by your use of the word as a lawyer, doctor or businessman to seal off a trivial conversation about football or politics.
There are many disagreements, especially when it comes to people who become more and more “public” as their number of followers or friends grows exponentially, creating, in the end, an impractical mix between childhood friends, pavê’s uncle , his ex-boss, his current lover and the party gang.
But these, don’t forget, are just the intimate and dwindling small portion of people you know.
“Know” is such a vague expression that it can encompass the professor from the other department you saw in a newsstand once in your life or the dear Corinthians doorman. Compare this bag of cats to the growing amount of people you “don’t know”.
And the icing on the cake, among those you “don’t know” there is still an equally growing residue formed by false profiles, cowardly pseudonyms, inhuman beings like boots, semi-human beings like trolls and haters. Maximum network recommendation: do not read, do not respond. Develop the supreme art of indifference. Acquire invisibility superpowers. Use the techniques of unseeing, undoing and de-existing the other. Create your own digital condominium where there will only be “people like us”.
We thus plunge into the confusion of confusion. Reacting in this way, we treat this mass of anonymous suspects, compulsive resentful, intrusive erotomaniacs and other erratic beings on the internet, equivalent to the digital excluded, those who inadvertently confuse public and private discourse, the historical cancelers who do not enter the conversation and only observe .
They have learned too much the hard lesson that subordinates must not speak, only obey. Speak only when authorized or allowed by the other. Don’t interfere, because the other can criticize you back and “expose you”. To be ashamed of the lack of manners, the precariousness of language and cultural resources. All this characterizes the transport of power relations, segregation and domination into the internet.
In this year, in which the political temperature of the network tends to heat up because of the elections, it is better to prepare ourselves to distinguish things and learn to read, yes, always all the comments, respond when possible and recognize when necessary. Even if it means antagonizing your interlocutor.