Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 4, 2019

The Twittering Machine

Filed under: Internet — louisproyect @ 2:05 pm


Until reading Richard Seymour’s “The Twittering Machine”, my views on social media were narrowly focused on their utility to revolutionaries. I really hadn’t thought much about their impact on the ordinary citizen who has likely never read Karl Marx or any other serious written material. As Richard aptly points out, they do their reading through a smartphone rather than books or magazines. And, if they bother to read anything online, it is only to trawl for some tidbit that they can “share” with their FB friends or Twitter followers in the hope of being validated through a “like”.

“The Twittering Machine” is a book that not only gets to the heart of social media’s deficits but is a joy to read. Richard Seymour is an erudite public intellectual with a Ph.D. to match. He writes books that can be appreciated by Marxist malcontents like myself but the ordinary person whose addiction to a smartphone and social media might be overcome through reading such a book. Dedicated “to the Luddites”, “The Twittering Machine” begins with an author’s note that I urge others on the left to emulate. It would help us reach a broader audience for our ideas: “In writing this book, I set out to avoid burdening it with references and scholarship. I want it to be read as an essay, rather than as a polemic or an academic work.” He succeeds admirably.

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  1. […] Source: The Twittering Machine | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist […]

    Pingback by The Twittering Machine – Last Man There — October 4, 2019 @ 4:38 pm

  2. I used to be on Twitter quite a lot for 4 or 5 years. I learned a great deal from it by following people involved in social movements, particularly Black Lives Matter and others involved in immigration actions against ICE. I also had some great cultural interactions about film and literature. So there can be a great intellectual, political and cultural benefit from being engaged with others on social media. I’m not one of those who malign social media, especially Twitter, as solely a source of fake news, conspiracy theories and hate speech. Of course, that happens, but I encountered a lot of great things that I would have never encountered otherwise.

    But I have been off it for about 5 months. As noted by Seymour and others, Twitter and other social media platforms can be very addictive, and that was the experience that I had. If there was a way for me to utilize it for the intellectual, political and cultural content free of its addictive qualities, I would do it. But I haven’t discovered it yet, so I stay away from it, accepting that my universe of knowledge has been reduced. I do, however, find myself reading novels and non-fiction more (I have enjoyed reading “The Warmth of Other Suns”, “The Executioner’s Song” and “Marx at the Arcade”). Maybe, it will always be this way.

    Comment by Richard Estes — October 5, 2019 @ 11:36 pm

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