Social Media is a Spectacle…But We Can Overcome It!



I’m taking a class called Social Media and Participatory Culture, and we have to follow the social media of someone and connect their posts to readings we discuss every week. I’m going to be following Joe Santagato and relate his topics to some readings. This shall be an interesting semester. 

Joe Santagato, a small YouTube star from Queens, NY, has been Vlogging for a few years. He rants about things that are happening in social media or people in general. For this week’s readings on Social Media and Participatory Culture, we learned about the history of the Internet, algorithms, social media, and spectacles. After going through some videos of Joe’s channel I found the video, “ An Important Message,” where he rants about people being too attached to their phones. For the majority of the video he talks about texting, but he mentions social media too. A lot of what he said was true and connected to the Spectacle article. Joe realizes what he’s doing and admits, “It’s crazy because I know I’m a part of it, but we are all slowly becoming useless.” Too many people are obsessed with their phones and virtual lives, that they don’t take time to bask in what their surroundings have to offer. “Debord [theorist] defined the spectacle as a mass of superficial relations between people, mediated by commodities and images,” (Vejby and Wittkower 98). This relates to how Facebook, the number one social media network used globally, has created a spectacle for billions of people. Facebook does have positive things that are helpful for people like: keeping updated with some news, catching up with old friends, and letting you express your opinion or creativity. The down side is the fact that the majority of our conversations happen on Facebook, other social media sites, and texting. Joe explains how awkward a situation can become when you spend too much time on the Internet, “Most people don’t know how to have a real conversation… One time I was talking to this girl and I didn’t even notice, but we were talking and then after an hour she said, ‘You know I really notice that you don’t stare at me in the eyes when you talk.’ I was like ‘Wow that’s awful,’ because that’s a basic human thing. You’re supposed to stare at someone in the eyes when they talk.” People sometimes can forget how to act in a real life situation. “The spectacle destroys dialogue and transforms the real world into images, which then become themselves ‘real’ because they remain as only the truth,” (Vejby and Wittkower 99). Facebook encourages dialogue, but only virtually. Once you spend too much time on social media, you kind of forget what to say when the person is right in front of you. Sometimes you forget what to say to start a conversation. On social media you have more time to think of what to talk about or ask someone to tell you what to talk about with a specific person. This situation tends to happen if you meet someone you became friends with through social media first, instead of in person. Joe confirms about people who claim to not having many friends, “The reason you can’t make any friends is because your entire life the way you made friends was clicking a button and sending a friend request. That’s not how you make friends.” I agree, a friendship begins when you meet in person and spend time with them to explore your different interests and find a connection with each other. Social media may bring people together in a virtual world, but not in real life. The article explains how the theorist, Guy Debord, contemplates that, “These superficial relations [made in the Spectacle] constituted a negation of real life and ended up alienating people from each other and themselves,” (Vejby and Wittkower 98). We don’t want to alienate people; therefore we must separate ourselves from the Internet, or our phones. This shouldn’t happen entirely or forever, but just for a majority of your day. Don’t miss what life has to offer. As Joe says, “Tweet less, live more.”


-Wittkower, D. E. Facebook and Philosophy: What’s on Your Mind? Comp. Rune Vejby. Chicago: Open Court, 2010. Print.

An Important Message

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