Two Facebook users walk into a bar. Or into a chat without them being friends. Each realises their security settings, so finely tuned, don’t allow them to invite each other into wholesome friendship. They give up and take their place at each end of the bar, typing, but not joined in holy Zuckermony. Without knowing, they’ve achieved social media isolation. The government is crazy not to subsidise antiseptic companies like Facebook and Twitter.
Far more difficult is to attempt the other kind of social media isolation. That’s the kind of self-imposed quarantine and online curfew that won’t let the viral posts in. It keeps the bandwidth uninfected, the air between the router and your device clean and the behavioural surplus un-extracted by social media curators. This type of isolation is dangerous for your health as it can trigger withdrawal symptoms, at which point you may not be responsible for your online behaviour. If not handled properly, social media isolation may have unexpected side effects: trolling, scrolling and rolling on the floor upon exposure to the latest viral video. Log in at your own peril.
Unsurprisingly, increased social isolating has led to a reduction in social media isolation. As car traffic dwindles, internet traffic builds up. As handshakes wane, thumb-up likes wax. We’ve already been standing atomized in the bus-stop crowd, now we’ve descended to a sub-atomic level of segregation, comfortable in the illusion that online fellowship may feel the void.