Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

The Difference Between “Passion” And “Psychosis” In Social Media

What’s the difference between “passion” and “psychosis?” Passion enables you to seek out the things that help you get things done. Psychosis drives you to see things that aren’t there, or to think in ways that are disconnected from reality.

A lot of people today are passionate about social media. And there’s good reason: These media are creating new ways of connecting and sharing and communicating. There’s also a lot of misunderstanding, though, about the nature, promises and limits of these technologies which indeed are reshaping the way we do things.

That’s expected: Anytime new technologies emerge, there is bound to be a lot of talk around them –- from intelligent discussion to nonsensical cacophony. Optimists evangelize and hype, while pessimists ignore and dismiss. And they often sneer at each other –- one is the stubborn status quo defender, the luddite. The other is the dangerous radical, the hipster.

I’m sure there was a monk in Germany in 1455 who scoffed at the idea of a mechanical scribe and proclaimed it a useless contraption. And I’m sure there was one who proclaimed that this mechanical scribe, this new media thing, would bring forth the Second Coming.

As it turned out, neither was on the mark. And yet, that one single “new media thing” did alter the course of history. It was a big deal. It was revolutionary. So much so, that to this day when we see the phrase The Book, an image of holiness rises out of Spiritus Mundi. The Book conjures Revelation and Second Coming.

But the revolution –- or revelation –- which the printing press enabled transpired over about 500 years.

Unlike the printing press, however, today’s technologies are bringing forth new technologies –- and this bringing forth is happening at vastly faster rates than the printing press. Whatever revolutions they are enabling won’t transpire over half a millenium –- they are happening over years, over months, over weeks, right now.

The Web -– the new “new thingy” –- is the Mother of other new thingies. The Web is a media-producing medium. It is a big deal. Not “Second Coming” big deal, but a big deal. So it’s easy to see why we now see so much hype, so much rush to fetishize social media, so much attention and theorizing and claiming.

In rapidly changing times, one of the dangers is that the loudest voices of emotion are the ones that are heard, drowning out the softer voices of reason. Or as one Irishman put it:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

But in times of upturning change, losing perspective of reality sends you off the pathway you must cross. I suspect many many companies and their agencies will chase after wild geese. That’s what psychosis will do to you: you’ll chase after things that aren’t there.

So beware social media psychosis. We’re social beings –- that’s been the case for aeons. Social media hasn’t of a sudden bequeathed some magical new feature of being human. Will it change how we are social. Probably. Could go good, could go bad –- most likely a mix of both.

If you’re psychotic, it’s probably hard for you to know that you are –- at least until you crash into a wall named Reality, which as Philip K. Dick defined:

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.Philip K. Dick

But if you’re passionate –- and truly passionate about social media -– then you should have no fear in putting your understanding, assumptions and claims through the filter of reality checks.

Some of us have good guesses about what we can do with social media. Some of those guesses are born of passion for a better world. But none of us knows exactly where these technologies will take us. That form of gnosis would be called psychosis.

*This blog post was originally published at Phil Baumann*

You may also like these posts

    None Found

Read comments »

Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »