Thursday, September 24, 2020

Top ten books about social media

Matthew Sperling's first novel, Astroturf, was published by riverrun in August 2018, and was longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2019. His second novel, Viral, is out this month. His writing has also been published in 3:AM, Best British Short Stories 2015, The Guardian, The Junket, The Literateur, the New Statesman, The White Review, and elsewhere.

At the Guardian, Sperling tagged ten books that "trace the development of social media across the last decade, explore its effects in everyday life, and place it in its wider context. They share a sense of its enormous dynamism and power, as well as its vertiginous capacity for harm." One title on the list:
The Twittering Machine by Richard Seymour

Seymour is wide-ranging in his analysis of the destructive effects of the “social industry” on personal and political life. He shows how the “variable rewards” of social media alerts are geared to perpetuate addictive and depressive cycles of engagement; how the imperative to think of yourself as a micro-celebrity, with a personal brand that constantly needs to be maintained and is always in danger of trashing, has poisoned private life; how the attention economy incentivises trolling and reactionary politics; and how the “degradation of information” perpetuated by social media outruns even liberal diagnoses of Trumpian “fake news”. By the end, if you weren’t already, you will be on the verge of deleting your Twitter account. And yet Seymour himself is still on there, professionally compelled as a freelance writer to plug into the machine…
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue