The term ‘social metaphysics’ was coined by philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand to describe the philosophy of those who regard the consciousness of others as superior to their own – and to the facts of reality. Fascinatingly, the term ‘social media’ appears to describe much the same phenomenon.
Having passed away long before the evolution of on-line social media, Rand could never have guessed just how literal and visibly explicit her description of a social metaphysician would become. “It is only a social metaphysician who could conceive of such absurdity as hoping to win an intellectual argument by hinting: ‘But people won’t LIKE you!’”
Our experience with posters to Just Right’s Facebook page regarding our past two shows offered us a glaring illustration of just how impossible it is to have any meaningful dialogue with social metaphysicians – in this case, with Progressive Conservative and Doug Ford (‘Ford nation’) supporters. Their blatant (and proud!) dismissal of unequivocally accurate facts, of history, and of ideas goes a long way in explaining many other negative observations increasingly being made about social media.
The recent controversy involving Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook’s database to spread false news to millions of people during election periods is merely one of many scams made possible thanks to social metaphysicians.
At the heart of beginning to understand the many on-line manifestations of this phenomenon, we must come to learn that just as ‘social justice’ means ‘not justice,’ so too, ‘social media’ means ‘not media.’
Despite its potential to be much more, ‘social media’ has disturbingly become the vehicle that best suits those more concerned with group acceptance (i.e., getting ‘likes’ despite the unlikable, being on the winning team despite being on the wrong or evil side, etc) than with facts, truth, reality, or reason.
But what of those interested in objectivity, and not just in what others ‘like’ or believe? As always, it is each individual’s responsibility to discover the reliable and trustworthy source of information and commentary that, for them, is Just Right.