This week’s reading is “Infinite Distraction” by Dominic Pettman. The author explores the concept of “hypermodulation” and “hypersynchronization.” The way I understand it, hypersynchronization is the idea that we are all reading from the same book, yet hypermodulation is the idea that we’re all on different pages of the same metaphorical book. While I overall enjoyed the book, I found it hard to follow at times, with Pettman jumping rapidly from idea to idea. Additionally, I found some of his metaphors to be overly hyperbolic and off-putting, such as when he compares social media to The Human Centipede and a scene from A Clockwork Orange.
One idea that interested me was “the banal beyond,” which he describes in Chapter 2, The Will-to-Synchronize. He argues that social media is reflective of people trying to obtain some perfect, complete life that is out there, where “life is lived as it should be” (59). I feel that is true for a lot of people. They must post about certain things, and in a certain way, in order to portray that they are doing what they should be doing in life, so that they can fit in with everyone else who they think is living the same life that is perfect and well put-together.
Another point that I found interesting is when he discusses online dating. I do not think that dating apps and sites are quite as shallow as Pettman makes them out to be, because dating in itself is generally quite shallow to begin with, online or offline. However, I did agree with how the author points out the “grass is greener” mentality that dating apps can foster. I believe that dating apps such as Tinder or Bumble can give people the illusion that someone better is just a swipe away. All you have to do is log on to the app to see how many potential partners are out there, and I think that maybe it can create an unhealthy mentality towards dating. The “paradox of choice,” as one website puts it, is the predicament that users face; with so many people to choose from (or that at least we think we have to choose from), it becomes hard to know who is “the one.”
I don’t think that the “grass is greener” mentality can just be applied to dating. We see people posting about the best of their lives, and there is always someone out there doing way better than you in some aspect of their life, and I think that it can sometimes distract us from seeing our own achievements. On Pinterest, you can see beautiful houses and yards that might dwarf your own. On Facebook, you might see that someone has announced an amazing new career opportunity. On Instagram, you could see someone showing off their makeup skills in a selfie that makes you feel like you look like a sack of potatoes. Artists of all kinds can find someone out there that does their work better. I don’t know what the solution would be towards this, if there is one, besides cutting back on social media.