the “so-so” media

I have been teaching a core curriculum course called the Music Humanities for the summer session at Columbia since late May.  From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., twice a week.  It has been particularly an interesting experience for me because I am not necessarily a morning person.

This morning, a student asked me, “Are you on Instagram?” – I said, “No.” I used to be on Facebook, but I don’t have a personal account there anymore.  There is an “artist” page of mine, but I have some friends running it on my behalf.  Of course, I don’t have an Instagram, or a Twitter account.  Pinterest? Huh? I had to ask someone what it was just last week.  Yes, I am quite behind in terms of what these social media are.

My students and I talked for some good five minutes about how social media impact the way we interact with people.  According to my students, for some people, they measure their friendship with others on the basis of whether they are friends on Facebook.  I am reminded of the time right before I decided to deactivate my personal page there, that all I was doing was to “deactivate” others’ posts.  I won’t write here whose posts I was deactivating, but I was not sure why I would want to be there if all I did there was to “silence” others.  In the end, I thought, “So what is a friend, anyway?” – A fundamental question for all of us knowing that we cannot exist alone.  We affirm our existences “in relation to” the others.

A friend wrote a song whose lyrics go like this:

[…] i can’t wait
til the only way that we communicate
is through Facebook likes
and you pretend to look down at your phone
when i walk by […]

The context in which he writes the lyrics is a little different (it’s a song that deals with break-up, youthful emotional confusion, etc.).  But still, in a certain way, we are feeling less and less sensitive to the real-life experiences and the human emotions that they bring.  Or perhaps, the way we feel things in general is changing.

Would these social media replace human emotions?  What happens to us, then?

…However, an hour ago I had a thought that I would create a twitter account, and I tweet in English, French, and Japanese alternately.  No matter what happens, the tweet in English is followed by French, then by Japanese, then back to English.  What would that say about me? “Oh, he is (pretending to be) trilingual.” “Oh, he has no real roots in Japanese culture, how shameful.” … But in the end, why does it matter?  A student in my class remarked that internet social medias are just how people create a kind of online identity, which could be radically different from the real selves.  Would that mean I could probably do what Glenn Gould did?