Dictionary.com defines motley as first, an adjective, “exhibiting great diversity of elements,” and second, a noun, “a medley.”
I claim this word, motley, as an apt descriptor for my content, beyond polemic, in opposition to the standard for many social media communities, which requires niche content curation. While I do use certain keywords (hashtags) to identify myself for potential members of my audience, I do not like the limiting confines of content buckets on the part of all the major social communities. I do not fit squarely into any particular niche, nor do I want to.
Yet, niche content is preferred by major tech companies because it provides an easy vehicle for marketing strategists to pair brands with influencers and feeds (consumers). This is all thanks to capitalism, which in its boundless quest for more and more commodities, persistently limits its adherents to specialities.
In Universality and Identity Politics, Todd McGowan writes, “Capitalist subjects see themselves as isolated monads, and identification with one’s particularity produces this sense of isolation….Capitalism thrives on a variety of particular identities because this variety provides for more types of commodities to be sold. In our contemporary capitalist society, the goth can buy trench coats and dark eyeliner while the jock can purchase sweatpants and jerseys. More identities lead to more commodities.”
In short, our current mode of relating compels niche content creation and consumption through tech, as a means of fulfilling the aim of the capitalist machine. The way we consume content is a byproduct of commodification. Capitalism is always in search of need–what need will my product satisfy? How do I market my product to those who have that need? Big tech solves the problem of marketing commodities by sorting data into neatly ordered categories: we call them niches, which function as conduits between producers and consumers. Producers rely on segmented, detached identities because they yield data groups, which inform production, marketing, and eventually, lead to consumption. This is a cycle that replicates like dittos through a mimeograph.
By choosing a niche, by limiting ourselves to one content bucket, we who create are propping up algorithms, multi million dollar tech companies, and their clientele (marketers), as God over all.
But I am not simply an autistic adult, an exvangelical, an atheist, or a mother. I am all of these and so much more, and every facet of my being is connected to and affected by the others. How am I to partition these pieces of myself when they rely so heavily on one and the other? Why should I? To be discovered? By whom?! For what?!
McGowan adds, “By believing oneself to be an isolated particular identity, one takes up the role of the perfect capitalist subject. Capitalism depends on all individuals believing themselves isolated from everyone else…Particular identity is what keeps one a capitalist subject.”
I am on social media for one reason: to share the story of my life. I believe that by sharing my story, I will arrive at new insights, which will further ensure my autonomy as a subject AND that I will impact the lives of others, with whom my story resonates. I find the term “social,” as signifier for the type of media we consume, is misleading. The social has been stripped from the media, as we reduce ourselves for the benefit of capitalist enterprise. Ours are actually sales communities, as our worth is determined by the social media currency (likes, comments, follows, shares) which is backed by the marketing aims of tech producers.
Likewise, McGowan contends, “identity…provides recognition from a social authority. But it is for this reason that identity cannot be emancipatory. Identity remains within the domain of the social authority that recognizes it and is thus dependent through and through.”
We, as content creators, as curators, submit ourselves to the authority of algorithms, which are themselves handmaidens to big tech and corporate interests. We divide ourselves, share only in part, because that is the only way to be seen. By doing this, we alienate ourselves.
I don’t want to create a community of consumers. I want to create an authentic social community–a place where people can identify with one another, rather than against. Community is found in the space where we relate to one another, and most often, we relate through struggle and unite through empathy.
Don’t misunderstand me: I do not aim to identify or empathize with the oppressor. I aim to share what I can of my story to identify and empathize with all of the oppressed because
“the universal is what the ruling order doesn’t have, not what it does have. In this way, it is always on the side of those fighting on behalf of freedom and equality because they are what is missing, not what is manifested.”Todd McGowan
Those at the top of the food chain demand division. Because through the division and opposition of subjects, investors create even more capital. The more divided we are, the more power they amass, the more reliant on them we become. Social media is the new mainstream religion honoring the God of capital and production.
But I subscribe to no religion and I honor no God.