In one of my previous posts I have talked about the developments and effects of (digital) echo chambers. I have argued that: “”Every day, like-minded people can and do sort themeselves into echo chambers of their own design, leading to wild errors, undue confidence and unjustified satisfaction.” These Echo chambers turn into spheres in which people start to hear only what they choose and what comforts and pleases them. The consequence of this is – among others – routinzation. One might want to argue that the routinization of an ever changing and organically evolving subject such as the digital media, i.e. digital culture is a contradiction in itself.
Although I can see the point within this train of thought, it seems hardly likely that people will be able to wholly abandon their desire to foster Status-Quo-expertise. In fact I am hoping for the opposite, but recent developments within the digital realms suggest that the often cited media revolutions will at least slow down. Let’s look at Facebook as just one example to illustrate this thesis. The Social Network giant enters the stock exchange markets merely for one reason, which is to acquire money that is to be reinvested for the sole purpose of expansion. Facebook will start gulping down and digesting smaller networking companies to defend their status. As a result many people will probably have to passively accept a monotonous, neverchanging diet of unchallenging, prefabricated and predictable popular digital culture – nothing but “bubble gum of the mind” (Dwight Macdonald).
I am not predicting this rather dystopic development, it is rather that I fear for a considerable part of the digital masses to be huddled together in limited, thoughtless, unsophisticated digital spaces.
A steadily growing social giant like Facebook might call the vision of real participation (influence exerted not only by a few, but by many) into question. The next months will show, if Facebook will start incorporating online networking services and communication channels – slowing their resistance-qualities down to make them more digestable for potential advertisers. The pattern is too well-known to be ignored: Once the makers of digital products think they have hit onto a winning formular, they stick with that formular, because they know that repeating it will be lucrative. Conversely, true innovation and novelty are scorned as being ‘too risky’ and thus are avoided. Instead of a deeper digital exploration I fear that we will be fed the same things over and over again. It is one of mystries of advertising that many can be led to believe that they are offered something entirely new when really every new dish is actually microwaved and artificially rehashed.