William Davies, 30 July 2020
The rapid expansion and consolidation of social media platforms led by Facebook has driven the logic of the ‘worm’ into everyday life. In the shadow of the ubiquitous ‘like’ button, however, the alternative to enthusiasm is often – as Schmitt anticipated – ‘silence or complaining’. Photographs, restaurants, research papers, songs, products or opinions are compared on the basis of their relative numbers of ‘likes’. On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, there is no equivalent of a ‘downvoting’ button (though there is on YouTube). Negative opinion is expressed either through a sheer absence of acclaim, or through outbursts of denunciation, which other users may in turn wish to ‘like’ or share. The radical difference between the infrastructure overseen by Mark Zuckerberg today and the one rolled out by George Gallup in the 1930s is that we can all now potentially act as the pollster. Here’s my dog: like or dislike? Donald Trump is a fascist: agree or disagree?