Have we become a society of amoral self-documentarians, where opinion alone reigns supreme as if it were valid each time in its own right simply by virtue of being uttered? Are we now a world where coercion through carefully crafted ideas is becoming a lost practice drowned in the openness of social media platforms? Are we now perfectly satisfied to simply amass agglomerations of so-called self-expression and showcase these collages to the world as "me"?
From Vine to Instagram to Path to Pinterest to many more including the more obvious Facebook and Twitter, people spend ungodly amounts of time crafting their 'story' day by day, hour by hour. According to the latest Facebook data, globally, people are logged into Facebook for roughly 42,000 years of human time each day. That means that we are spending about the same amount of time that we have existed on Earth toying around on Facebook in every five-month period. Pause and reflect on that for a moment. Why aren't we spending the same amount of time honing thoughts on say global warming, poverty, poetry, philosophy, local government issues, psychotherapy, health care, our kids or friends? The obvious answer is that it's much easier, and a heck of a lot more fun, to throw a GIF up on GifBoom or rally the troops in Clash of Clans. But is there more to this? Is this how we've always thought deep within the recesses of our brooding souls? For thousands and thousands of years has the hamster in each of our wheels been wearing a clown hat, telling jokes and giggling through life, focused on petty rewards and recognitions? I don't think so, and frankly, I blame Jackson Pollock.
In 1949 Life Magazine asked: Is Jackson Pollock the greatest living painter in the United States? This was at the peak of his drip painting phase, which a couple of years later he abruptly abandoned in quintessential artistic esprit. What he left the world with was a completely broken picture plane. Things didn't stand up in any sense of the word in a Jackson Pollock painting. He literally threw the canvas on the floor and tossed the paint to the ground. He represented brash American individualism and a welcome departure from our stuffy Euro-centric roots. Most importantly most of American society understood Jackson Pollock as the ultimate destroyer of elitism through self-expression. It was as if he gave full license to the notion that carefully crafted works of art that we had come to know in the great museums of Europe were un-American, stiff, encased in a time of Kings and Queens. This was America, land of self-expression, freedom and equality. We read his message as: We are all artists; it is simply a matter of expression. We came to believe that inside each of us is a Jackson Pollock waiting to tell the world about our genius. All we need is the right canvas. Welcome social media.
Social media is where we Jackson Pollock ourselves every day by throwing out GIFs, JPEGs, sentences, utterances, sharing, commenting, liking, tagging, captioning. Notice: Facebook doesn't have a comment rating system. You don't hate, feel OK about, sort of like, like, love, or want to die for things. You just like them or you don't. Like an artist who will 'tell' you with each mark they make on the canvas which mark they wanted to make, they don't show you the one's they didn't want to make. They only show you what they like. So every day on Facebook alone 42,000 years of Jackson Pollocking splashes across the social media landscape screaming: This is who I truly am! This is my human snow flake that no one else is! Drip, drip, drip...
I blame you Jackson Pollock sir. I blame you.