Night Of The Living Transmitters
In the Animal Kingdom only the lucky few can partake in the act of procreation. During the mating rituals the individuals become performers, dancers, musicians, visual artists, builders and poets but even then they must fight with others for the broadcasting rights. Air time is very limited and the selection very rigid. Only the best, most impressive, the strongest and the most colorful will succeed in passing on their genes. The rest must accept becoming the submissive rank members of the flock.
If you are a creative person that works tirelessly to provide high quality content daily, you are a „transmitter”. Logically speaking, if there is a transmitter, there should also be a receiver. Preferably in a balanced proportion. However, in the era of widespread social media narcissism, the receivers are slowly giving way to the transmitters. Nobody wants to be a receiver anymore. The receiver seems passive and defeated!
anyone with a smartphone can, in a way, become famous
Because the concept of fame has now become fragmented into tiny parts, anyone with a smartphone can, in a way, become famous. There is the global fame, national fame and little tiny pocket fame(s). Keeping the fame up depends on frequency of broadcasting but not the quality of it, thus the intervals between successive selfies are becoming shorter and shorter. Not only breakfast, but also second breakfast, lunch, dessert and dinner deserve to be photographed and broadcast. Shrinking of the intervals between these episodes of transmission could eventually lead to permanent installation of a smartphone lens at a short distance from one’s face, which will allow taking a continuous and infinite super selfie 24/7!
Such ultimate selfie would be a live transmission of life. Perhaps also death.
If the majority of people devote themselves to this activity, there will be no more recipients of their content. The end result would be a non stop transmission of our own act of watching the transmission of others and vice versa: a feedback loop. But in practice no one will entertain the possibility of receiving other transmissions since everyone will be occupied with their own non-stop live broadcast. Who will the transmission be for? Will it then make any sense if it remains without a reception, without reaction, without likes?
It is still difficult for me to imagine humanity cured of its voyeuristic tendencies because exhibitionism can’t survive on its own and without reciprocity.
a world composed of just transmitters will then turn into a masturbatory orgy
Reality TV programs are still gaining viewership because we still like to observe others.
The balance between the exhibitionist and the voyeur must remain intact otherwise a world composed of just transmitters will then turn into a masturbatory orgy in which self-focused participants undertake lonely mating rituals without paying the slightest attention to each other. Creators without recipients will lose their credibility and become invisible to each other, and their mating rituals will not attract anyone no matter how impressive they are. Without the reception our creation will have no sense and will give birth to a community without (with no need for) creativity.
There are more transmitters than the receivers today, and if some receivers can be found, their ability to focus is getting weaker. You may have noticed that it is not enough to just create content anymore. Today, using all the marketing skills and resources we can muster, we have to break through the excess noise to tip the “transmitter-receiver” scales in our favor. If it succeeds, the popular admiration will not be for the creative act itself but for the extraordinary ability to promote it. The skill of self promotion thus becomes a value above the creation itself, while in the world of other animals, considerable fangs, colorful plumage or the biggest and the reddest growth under the chin is still advertisement enough to guarantee the spread of the genes*. A lion doesn’t have to buy any airtime or „boost his posts” to prove that his mane is indeed impressive. His mane is enough for him and if it is impressive, he will undoubtedly find a good reception without the need to advertise this fact. Can he, however, be an exceptionally wonderful and intelligent lion with a unique personality regardless of the condition of his mane even though it’s the lionesses who do all the hunting?
It’s not for us to judge.
*here genes serve as an analogy for creative ideas (memes) that behave in a similar way in the context of formation, spreading and evolution. The analogy between genes and memes has been used in many publications, among others in the book „Genes vs. Memes” by Walter A. Koch
Polish version here.