Socialising in a post-social world

Adrian de León
3 min readMar 19, 2024
Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

What is post-social theory? It is a theory that aspires to analyse “an environment in which the social principles and structures we have known hitherto are emptying out and other elements and relationships are taking their place.” If fast-pace technological changes tagline of our modern society, then acceleration is its hashtag. Perhaps more quickly than any other generation, our world has changed, as we have stumbled from an analogue to a digital society — and soon tip-toeing into metaverses, AR and VR worlds.

The rise of AI and other associated cognitive technologies is rapidly reconfiguring the way we as humans interact with the world and with those who populate it. The deployment of silicon-based interactions has shifted and twisted our social landmarks, destabilising the assumptions we once had, turning us into isolated and lonely sailors in a sea of followers and WhatsApp messages.

One does not require peer-reviewed research, or news segments, or even government policies to resonate with a feeling that we have disconnected from another. Human interactions are no longer the predominant mechanism for us to exist; machines are the mediums from which we manifest ourselves into the world. From self-check out machines to Amazon packages, we have transcended our societal brothers and sisters and their flawed non-mathematical capabilities.

In a new city or country, we rely on Google searches and the reviews of strangers — who could simply be digital bots — to navigate our decision making journey. We do not need other humans for the time, and front-facing cameras have made the stranger’s offer to take a photo obsolete. Google Translate has made basic linguistic interchange an archaic relic, and asking for directions raises suspicions. We have become self-actualised and atomised.

Public places, old community spaces, hotels, and hostels are haunted by the silence of eyes glued to a screen. Walking-up to another person just to talk has become a complete anathema, as if the fear of rejection or simply engaging in unfruitful conversation has become a sin. Perhaps in the new church of the self, engaging with others in a way that suggests we may rely on others for our own entertainment or existence is a cardinal sin.

In the hustle culture of late capitalism, anything close to socialism is an ideological faux-pax; therefore, it makes sense to witness the slow degradation of anything social. One’s success and demise is pinned exclusively to one’s ability and work ethic. There is no team in I. The Apples of this world have turned our phones into Iphones, Walkmans into Ipods, and humans into Iams.

Technology has transformed travelling, shifting the priorities and intentions of those who embark on their journeys. The pendulum has swung towards the external world, where countries, cities, natural landscapes, culinary delicacies are now tools in a social media box designed to build up a following or a crumbling sense of self-esteem.

Our value systems are determined by the algorithms and the black box code that dictates it’s like and dislikes. Our cultural and aesthetic gurus are varied sequences of 0s and 1s. In under a century we have turned from masters to slaves, burning our fingers on the fire stolen by Prometheus.

Post-social theory believes that our social principles and structures are changing and other elements are taking its place. As the future continues to await us, have we begun the process of replacing humans from our society, and allowing algorithms to take our place?

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