“My Reward Is The Same As Everyone Else: Likes, Hearts Comments”

Nune Hakhverdyan

Art critic, journalist

Nowadays, when browsing social media is a routine like cleaning, bathing, taking a shower, a writer is in a dual state. They either play by the rules of the net in the field of operative and timely news or tries to catch the attention of a more skilled reader.

Poet Karen Antashyan considers the textual environment of the web to be wonderful. It’s great when everything on the web is broken down quickly.

“Getting into that beehive of restraint is an exciting experience. My creative method is conscious ignorance. Anarchy creates an illusion of certainty by marking equality between the conventional high and the conventional low,” he said.

Writers have been deprived of the monopoly of writing text and everyone has started to write. Does it help communicate or vice versa?

At different times, things like toilets, cars, telephones, cordless phones and the internet were available only to the privileged class.

But as time went on more and more things became available to a greater number of people, including the ability to express themselves, speak and give an opinion. The Internet has created an individual opportunity to accumulate and nourish global memory.

Any adult can, almost without hindrance, in a variety of thematic platforms, create such a deliberate and adaptable microcosm that they as an individual can be recreated in virtual reality and become the center of all flow paths and the center of all cognition.

I think human civilization has reached such heights as it has developed the ability to communicate and collaborate, to share accumulated experience.

And across the web, this process has reached a state of incredible productivity.

This new phase is the in-service training of Big Data that generates new solutions and outputs from the aggregated data.

As a result of this, a poet is fortunate to have the fact of their writings and the remnants of privileged myths that have existed for centuries migrated to more subtle ontological places.

This is an interesting challenge.

A person wakes up, drinks coffee, and goes onto Facebook to see what’s up. And they feel that they are not alone.

We are all victims of this addiction and exercise our right to wander the social network with the responsibility to get things done. With the overwhelming force of habit, we browse the news, regardless of our degree of office, or level of ordinary idleness.

Social networks are a simulation of life just like sugar is a simulation of food. Because our brains work with sugar, it tries to bypass its precursors that need to be broken down, digested, refilled.

So too is the Facebook feed, which delivers fast-digesting vital energy. It’s not life, but the deception of life to enjoy, be sad, be involved, have the unbelievable reach of something.

And now that process is irreversible.

Good text gets lost in the noise. The author is then forced to also give in to the simulation – trolling, mass language, etc.

The network, being a gathering place for large numbers of people, is primarily a market.

In essence, this is an environment of selling something and buying something with its self-sufficient signaling system, its language, subculture and communities, incentives and punishment, unwritten and, more recently, more written rules, real and fake news, with analytics, pretensions to truth, targeted advertising, already with their own cryptocurrencies, and more.

The market is very nicely reproduced in the concept of social networks: one sells political ideas, the other sells yogurt, and the third sells its text. And if you go to the net as the author of the text, you have to get into those relationships and get rewarded with the same thing everyone else is rewarded with. Likes, hearts, or comments.

After all, this is now a universal assessment tool.

The so-called “great” authoritative word has also disappeared. What’s important is having many followers, not state awards, some merit, experience or even talent as in past epochs.

In social media feeds it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone is the consumer and the author of that multi-media buzz. As a poet, I am the creator of my own kind of suggestion, and my reward is the same as everyone else: likes, hearts, comments.

For the modern man, the ability to harmonize reality with the web has become a vital skill.

We’re like land dolphins, halfway to becoming mammals.

On the other hand, the web is a very serious logistical tool for organizing the lives of billions of people (especially in large megacities). These people need to be connected, brought, moved, fed, occupied.

Doing it online saves a tremendous amount of resources – fuel, time, effort. A physical encounter is no longer necessary to solve problems, work together, and start a personal relationship, it is just an extra measure of reality.

It seems to me that professional communities are gathering more and more intensively online, and the news in Armenia is more diverse.

It seems like we are people in one house, we all know each other, we have something to look forward to and say to each other, and there is the illusion of everyone’s voice being heard.

The Armenian Facebook news feed, for example, is like a village where there is everyone – the sunflower seller, the politician, and even the rebel.

The media become the disseminators of secondary information, they are late. It seems irreversible. Is it important for the writer not to be late?

The news media seem to be in a deep ontological crisis, as now everyone on their social network page is already a source of operational news.

There are people who have thousands of readers on the net, while there are mass media outlets who don’t have a quarter of that audience size. Who is the important source now?

The relationships between speakers and listeners are being reviewed. The Prime Minister of the country eats “kyala,” speaks to his constituents and at the same time receives feedback.

There is no need for complex sociological research: the number of likes, hearts, ha-has and angry emojis is enough to understand.

The temptation of this convenience leads to politics becoming a reality show, not a life-changing tool for universal well-being, and voters a spectator who either has a good time or gets bored.

The second is the worst for live-state, where the media always needs to throw a bone for the public to chew on. We are accountable to those whom we have made our followers.

And so our boredom, idleness, the need for communication and entertainment, the inner need for self-affirmation, and being part of a community come together, and we begin to perceive the web as real life, not as a tool for organizing life.

And I often write poetry, not on a separate drive to print somewhere, but in response to a Facebook inquiry, Karen, what’s on your mind?

The elevated hygiene of poetry is also under review: That is, the misconception that before writing, the poet is visited by muses, the gates of heaven are opened and the text is heavenly, which reaches the reader only after being edited, proofread, printed, and critiqued.

Now the poet has a live wireless portal attached to that village. They write the text and get into discussions at once with likes, arguments, shares, and more.

Responses, feedback is a matter of seconds. And so the nature of the text is also changed. You know today’s conversation will not be trending in a few days.

And you want to be up-to-date, and at least not boring, to talk about what is now getting people’s attention, and you start to tempt your audience with candy.

The network has taught that importance is being replaced with freshness. Then even fresher. What should you do in this situation, where you want the poem/text to be both fresh and long-lasting?

In an interactive environment, new meanings and visualizations of new phenomena, memes, are born every day. With each so-called garbage, new folk memories are created and the general context and group memory are changed.

I try to catch these signals, to communicate with them to transform them into text, because humanity has not yet created a system of more perfect simulation of reality than text.

For me, the internet is not just a fishing spot but, above all, a folk hummus-rich land from which I feed.

Interestingly, the words of new and young politicians seem to continue the tradition of Soviet speech, even though they use the online language. Is there not a new political culture?

The web has also become a definite repository of public memory where there are already discussed, digested topics, criticized styles and value systems. As a result of this, progress is fermented, which then flows out and is reproduced in stereotypical reality.

There are politicians of the older generation who are always perceived on the web with the same tone, with the same ambiance, with the same canonical humor and criticism.

There are truth-memes that are no longer discussed on the web, for example, Serzh Sargsyan is lazy, Galust Sahakyan is absurd, Artashes Geghamyan is bribed, Gagik Tsarukyan in any unclear situation gives out free Nivas, that he is against being for the ARF, that Kocharyan gives away pizza to his followers, that Nikol Pashinyan bows down to all of us and threatens to bury others under asphalt.

There is as yet no formalization of the behavior so vividly expressed in the young politicians.

Reality often becomes the chewing gum of the web, but is the opposite taking place?

It is a fundamental truth that man is a social being. Even if we consider ourselves self-sufficient and accomplished individuals, we simply cannot exist without a community. We are communicative, collaborative, giving-and-receiving, imitative beings.

If a man sees that there is a common dominant group behavior, regardless of his morality and culture, he will begin to imitate. Most of our thoughts and actions are just imitation, mainly of our community.

There is even a theory that even though all members of the community individually know that this type of behavior is wrong, they still maintain the tradition of that behavior for fear of community aversion.

Networks are conditional, but a community nonetheless that will expand over time.

People are conservative at first, then online they start to behave in a liberal way, then that behavior also becomes part of the outside relationship, and then comes the most conservative and sacred domain – the hearth. So sooner or later this online democracy will go offline.

Of course, no one rules out that Facebook is also used for manipulations. But inevitably it is an environment of progress.

As more people are connected to each other on the web, at least hiding the most unusual, inhumane, dirty things is becoming harder and harder.

What is the most dangerous manipulation today?

On the short-term political agenda, the campaign under the slogan “Armenia is my home, the people are my family” and all other spirit-driven events.

The main asset of the social-political movement, which was declared a velvet revolution, was the advocates of progress and modernization.

But our new authorities have begun to manipulate the sentiments of the most conservative and massive strata, by playing the words home, hearth, and so forth.

By the way, the opposite camp is doing the same for groups that are chronically and morally desiring to return to the old authorities, exploiting homophobia and darkness.

This was perhaps the most dangerous backdrop for our new authorities after the unclear motivation to defend the Amulsar Gold Mine and the vague and winding discourse that followed.

It was decided that you should be liked by a lot of people.

The power of progress should never be underestimated. Whatever the position of the few, no matter how confronted with real life, liberation and modernization have no alternative.

Even if the state becomes a prison and the barbed wire is pulled, sooner or later it will win, so it is better earlier than later.

The mentality that people want this, and we show them just that, is just nonsense.

People have no preference initially, they want what their acquaintances, friends, family members want, and tend to imitate.

And the very tendency of imitation can be used to bring new and fresh ideas to the public. After all, sanctifying the family is a person’s choice; he will live in a communion of ideals or alone, not in a home.

But man has unlimited energy to self-develop, develop, and transform. The Prime Minister also occasionally tries to awaken these forces, calling on hope only for personal efforts, to rise up, move on with his own old Armenian ass, and do business.

And how does the poet do that?

The biggest problem for a creative person is being honest. If you are a true poet, then you have touched and transformed the reality that is hidden beneath markets, propaganda myths, ontological traps, manipulative talk, and thousands of other things for the community.

Interview by Nune Hakhverdyan

Add new comment

Comments by Media.am readers become public after moderation. We urge our readers not to leave anonymous comments. It’s always nice to know with whom one is speaking.

We do not publish comments that contain profanities, non-normative lexicon, personal attacks or threats. We do not publish comments that spread hate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *