Perspectives: what to expect from a connected society in 2022

I’m going to show you a video. It’s a man who taught me that language is much more than words (and you can play the song too, make the class fun and all, but if you’re here for info, sit tight). A Semiotician, he investigated what elements made meaning in the world of media, especially. In an interview, he says Linguistics as a field of study couldn’t contemplate the multiplicity of meanings associated, for example, with image. Now, stop right there. Do you want to contribute with this, get informed, or are you searching for a smartass reply? There are separate lines for each group. Let’s even make subtitles for all of them. But here’s the video:

Gunther Kress was a student of Michael Halliday. They’ve both recently passed away. It’s hard when you’re away from your University’s library, so let’s look at what the Wikipedia entry emphasizes in Halliday’s work: “linguistic structure is the realization of social structure, actively symbolizing it in a process of mutual creativity. Because it stands as a metaphor for society, language has the property of not only transmitting the social order but also maintaining and potentially modifying it” (you can click this Amazon link to get the original “Language and Society: Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday”, from Continuum’s 2007 edition). Now, about the audiences… there are, of course, many people to whom the study of language would make productive discussions, trainings, roundtables, policies, educational practice, workplace culture updates, media programs, social media trends and so on. But let’s just point out a few things, because reality is nobody’s even going to click the video and buy the book. We work with a 1% mindset, just to be told that it’s actually 0.1% — and if you’re on Spotify, less than that for a listen, not for comprehension of your story. Why do people connect? It seems like connectivity is an issue worth debating, considering how media approaches have treated people and vice-versa.

1) Do you want to connect out of boredom?

In this group, you can find people who are genuinely looking for a distraction, but these groups merge with other kinds of interests (for the entrepreneur or the person just experimenting with labels). The big narrative is lost, and smaller pieces of interaction seem to be important at first, or interesting at first, but soon are faded in relevance and give way to what’s really happening inside platforms and whose decisions made our experience good or bad. Notice how this happens in these niches:

  • gaming industry
  • dating industry
  • social media networking
  • marketing

2) Do you want to connect to understand people?

Here, we’re looking for specialists. People who navigate the web as a way to understand the world, and then carrying on their knowledge in order to prepare others for better experiences, better goals and results, better structure. Besides typical categories, you have third parties who have a glimpse of what we’re doing, then take a closer look and make both a casual prediction and a formal jurisdiction out of their nosey habits. Why would you want to understand people? They’re capital. Data is the new oil, didn’t you watch the documentary on Netflix? We just know they’re here:

  • teachers
  • data analysists
  • marketing strategists
  • parents

3) Do you want to connect to empower your message’s reach?

In this group, what matters is the message and its advocacy. The more people engage, the better the work. And so they look for strategies to make people talk, not necessarily with the best practices manual in their hands. If you can pay attention to health risks by watching an ad of a leader making fun of sick people, great; but what if you’re needing company, and a software suggests you add someone and start a conversation with them? These people have a lot in common:

  • Politicians
  • Activists
  • Companies
  • Scammers

4) Do you want to connect to criticize connectivity?

If you asked me where I see myself, I wouldn’t say it’s among the anti-surveillance geeks. I like capital, it makes me able to buy peanut butter (it’s been a while). But while my sense of belonging doesn’t come from the most united place in the world, it’s also a concept (there’s communities within communities, and I think that’s beautiful). What we have to watch for is when the criticism puts you on harm’s way, because of someone at the top. We’re all supposed to search for better ways to organize ourselves, and the power belongs to the people. If tech rules that it has rules in order to rule over people, maybe we just make a meme about their language and not get prosecuted for that, what do you think?

  • Privacy advocates
  • Anti-capitalist movements
  • Ill-supported communities
  • Targets of hate speech and others

Identifying who these people are, what their intentions may be and how people react to labelling might be useful for everyone, and navigating through contexts in which we’re taught to tolerate the influence of a divergence set of opinions and norms makes a difference in how our character is built, but also how much opportunity we’ll have in our lives.

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