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Social Media: An Empire for Rent

By: Less

The methodical behaviorism of the Internet leads and absorbs users to the social media. Different neurotransmitters are activated within your system, as simple as the sound of notifications (…).

Regular users of the social media are forming part of a unique global competition: the domain of attention. A behavior conditioned by the profitability of views, likes, followers, in short, fame. An empire for rent that has validated statuses that favor it: the vultures, the trolling[1], the manufacturing of (fake, aggressive) content, the manipulation of information, the display of power, the fake communities. The big technology houses (Facebook, Google) depend on these statutes, other giants (Microsoft, Amazon and Apple) just resort to them occasionally. They are distinguished depending on the increase of the cast of film actors, as if it were Bollywood. They have a remarkable number of extras, ghost entities, favored within the Reddit and 4chan communities.

We are victims of invisible social vandalism. The influence on human psychology and behavior is artificially manufactured in these communities. They collect “spooky entities”: bots[2], Artificial Intelligence, fake friends, fake followers, fake publications and automated profiles. (…)

Are you an NPC?: Non Playable Character

A new crisis of governability has emerged, a parallel effect of what is now known as social media warfare. The Are you an NPC? chain of 4chan, started by an anonymous user on a videogame board (July, 2016), triggered the trolling campaign on the Twitter social media. As part of a fake maneuver, with slogans and call to action, in relation to the presidential elections in the United States, the NPC accounts (pro-Trump and con-Trump / liberals and right wingers / Democrats and Republicans) were intentionally propagated with more than 1,500 bots on the platform.

The term NPC (Non Playable Character) originally comes from the gamers community. It refers to a role within videogames controlled by Artificial Intelligence or codes. On Twitter, it was adjusted to people who autonomously followed the thoughts and social tendencies of the group. During 2018 it prevailed as the flagship meme of the ideological campaign in the digital kingdom. It was a war that had been embraced by hordes of trolls dressed –with gray skins[3]– as political adversaries. A significant fact that favored its growing acceptance was the strategy of Alex Jones,[4] the spokesman for the U.S. extreme right’s conspiracy theories, who offered 10,000 dollars to anyone who made the most original meme.

After the #Black lives Matter (2013)[5] campaign, NPC has been the pitched battle in the most destructive and humanely lacerating digital field. The meme showed the social media’s political polarization and dehumanization. Its implosion expressed another social tendency: openly “cut and paste” criteria.

In keeping with this fact, and taking into account the recent social opening to the Internet in our country, during the 13th Havana Biennial the collective exhibition NPC: Non Playable Character was held in the Fanguito eStudio (artist Rodolfo Peraza’s space). The list of participating artists was headed by Vuk Ćosić (Slovenia, founding father of the net.art movement), Yucef Merhi (Venezuela, pioneer of net.art), Hamilton Mestizo (Colombia, new media artist focused on the intersections between biology and technology), Christian Oyarzún (Chile, net.art, linked to Cyberpunk culture), Nina Coulson (United Kingdom, net.art), El Diletante Digital (Cuba, website dedicated to Internet culture), Filio Gálvez (Cuba, net.art), Rewell Altunaga (Cuba, pioneer game-art in Cuba), Naivy Pérez (Cuba, net.art), the Serones duo (Cuba, net.art, game-art), Rodolfo Peraza (Cuba, pioneer new media, game-art, net.art).

The works that were part of NPC… explored how the culture of videogames and the Internet have radically modified politics, information and art today, especially in its production, distribution and reception. They referred to emerging digital communities and the Internet as a surveillance site, ideological battles and resistance policies, circulation and control of fake news and lost information.

NPC… did not intend to be placed under the umbrella of “new media show,” it had an open purpose. It made clear the foundational slogan of the net.art movement: “Art was a substitute for the Internet,”[6] on the internet anything goes, its platforms (social media) are a reflection of human nature. A meritorious exhibition if the levels of cultural alienation are taken into account with respect to the dynamics of functioning within the public Internet space in Cuba.

[1] In Internet jargon, a troll, plural trolls (from the Norwegian troll), describes a person who posts provocative, irrelevant or out-of-context messages in an online community, such as a discussion forum, chat room, blog comments, or similar spots, with the main intention of annoying or provoking.
[2] A bot (apheresis of robot) is a computer program, imitating human behavior. In terms of the social media, “ghost users,” those that are only used to add followers to your profile, are called bots.
[3] Gray because the meme had a gray face. A modification of the Wojak meme, used to express regret or melancholy.
[4] Recently blocked from Facebook, YouTube and Spotify.
[5] 5 International political movement originated within the Afro-American community against violence towards black people that caused great stir and strong positions of confrontation within social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
[6]  “Art was a substitute for the Internet.” Vuk Ćosić. Defining net.art. Net art Painters and Poets (2014). Catalogue.

 

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