Deconstruction, self-affirmation and social networks

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By Lucas Machado*

Social media can only be an extremely tense and paradoxical tool of deconstruction: they revolve around appearance and wanting to appear

There is absolutely nobody in this deconstructed world. There is only deconstruction. And there is nothing less “deconstructed” than, at some point, finding yourself “the” deconstructed, as if this were a process that could come to an end. For this reason too, there is nothing less “deconstructed” than wanting to give the appearance of being deconstructed. Precisely because the look rests on an idea of ​​immediacy and fixity – if I want to convey the appearance of deconstructed, I want to look immediately and entirely like that. But this precisely contradicts the very idea of ​​deconstruction as a process, as something that requires going beyond what we are or what we immediately seem to be and critically reflecting on it.

This is why social media can only be an extremely tense and paradoxical tool of deconstruction: they revolve around appearance and wanting to appear. But deconstruction requires us to go beyond appearance, to position ourselves critically in relation to it. Therefore, deconstruction, in social media, is transformed and inverted, not infrequently – in fact, perhaps even as a rule – into a tool of self-affirmation. Deconstruction is instrumentalized, co-opted precisely by the mechanism of self-affirmation that it should put in check. It solidifies in the “appearance of the deconstructed”, which we strive, then, to transmit and preserve at all costs.

If so, we must ask ourselves: is the best way to deconstruct ourselves, and to propose deconstruction to others, through social media – at least in the way we currently use them? Shouldn't we look for other means, so as not to turn deconstruction into self-promotion? In fact, it seems important to me to remember, here, the role that silence and recollection play in this process. In order to really reflect on who we are, we have to get out of the hustle and bustle of social media, the constant concern to assert ourselves and position ourselves. The requirement that we only express “right” opinions, that we always seem right and, therefore, have to defend ourselves at all costs, prevents, precisely, sincere reflection on our opinions. So why not stop talking for a while, so that you can reflect in silence?

It is necessary to find other spaces for criticism and reflection beyond those that our current social media, focused on appearance and self-promotion, can provide. And, perhaps, above all, finding the space within ourselves where we can question ourselves freely, without worrying about how that questioning will look.

This does not mean that we should not use social networks at all. Only that we must, firstly, not only not treat them as the privileged tool of our deconstruction, but also, secondly, in some way, while we lack other networks or other more appropriate means, subvert their uses. In other words: if social media are thought to be tools for self-promotion and self-affirmation, we must subvert them to transform them, against their original intention, into tools for opening up to the other and creating common spaces for reflection.

This means, in my view, in the first place, to stop simply sharing opinions (whether mine directly or those of others who express mine indirectly), to sharing debates, books, articles, films, in short, *references*, and not *opinions*.

This does not mean, it is important to note, that any space for expressing one's own opinion, or even self-promotion, should be banned. What should change is not the presence or not of these elements in social media, but the focus on them to focus on the debate itself. Let's make the focus of social media not the Self, not self-affirmation and self-promotion, but rather debate, dialogue, reflection based on references, which allows for the creation of common space with the other.

That would be the true subversion of social media. And this is what I believe we should do, while we do not have other media at our disposal, designed and designed with a purpose other than, precisely, the purpose of self-promotion. Media that, I believe, are entirely possible to be created, once we understand their importance and centrality to reconfigure the current space of our social relations and our ways of relating to each other and to ourselves.

*Lucas Machado He holds a doctorate in philosophy from USP

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