Social Media: The New History Books - Deepstash

Social Media: The New History Books

Thanks to smartphones, people are recording everything:

  • what they are wearing
  • what they eating
  • what they are listening to
  • where they are going

..in exquisite detail.

Historians of the future who want to study food, sports, leisure and other aspects of our present culture will find plenty of stuff on social media.

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Today’s Data Seen By Future Historians

Historians exploring the past study documents, scriptures, stories of folklore, journals and letters, seeing the various perspectives about how people lived at that time.

Future historians will have tons of material to study the current age, as data is getting accumulated at a record rate across the globe, with emails, text messages, videos, photographs and social media posts.

Each of these mediums provides a rich understanding of life in our times.

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  • Just like the political cartoons of the 18th Century, today’s memes pack a lot of informational value for future historians. 
  • The trouble is that there is so much data and polarizing perspectives that it may lead to further distortions in understanding.
  • One thing is for sure: highly original, interesting stories will be narrated about this age, proving yet again that truth is stranger than fiction.

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Such is the state of social media in present times that future historians might label our age as the Narcissistic Age.

People are voyeuristic, narcissistic to the hilt and filled with vanity, caring too much about how they are perceived by others.

Social media, with its viral pics and messages, may provide a micro-understanding of how we are living, but without proper context or wider implications of the events shaping our age.

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Apart from the digital records of today, historians will also study physical artefacts, and one thing that they will definitely encounter is plastic, due to its rather long shelf life. 

Plastic litter will help them see what we consumed, and the various chemicals in packaged food items.

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Small but vocal minorities have ensured that all kinds of ideologies, beliefs and discussions keep happening all the time, and even in the 21st century, plenty of people are there to deny the holocaust or claim that the earth is flat. The vast amount of disinformation will likely puzzle future historians.

Decontextualisation is a relatively new problem of digital media, as the stuff being circulated across the web often lacks any information about where it came from or if it is real. The lack of context would amplify over time.

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Videos that go viral

We are more likely to share a video or an article that creates a very strong positive or negative emotion in us.

These emotions could be: excitement, happiness and even anger.

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Just like heavy metal music, rap music and violent video games were blamed for corrupting entire generations, social media is the latest villain, seemingly able to corrupt minds at break-neck speed and on a much grander scale.

Social media and content companies like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Youtube and Netflix all seem like agents of destruction, affecting people of all ages using addictive algorithms, changing their mood, happiness levels and self-esteem.

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Conspiracy Theories

In the earlier times, conspiracy theories were a convenient way to cover up the inadequacies of the government, and putting a set of helpless people as a scapegoat, cloaking the misdeeds or mismanagement of those holding the ranks.

In 331 B.C., an epidemic was hidden in Rome, using a false story of mass poisoning by some women. Even now, in the current 2020 pandemic there are conspiracy theories doing the rounds, like a virus disease being spread by the telecommunications industry.

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