10 Best Books About Social Media Update 05/2022

Books About Social Media

A lot of people have given up a lot of their time to Web 2.0 in less than 15 years, and these books show how.

There hasn’t been anything that has changed the way we live faster than social media. Fifteen years ago, it didn’t even exist. Today, it takes up a lot of people’s waking thoughts. A lot of people’s thoughts about themselves, their relationships with other people and the world around them, as well as their jobs, are now entwined in the loose cluster of things called “Web 2.0.”

When Joseph Conrad said this in 1900, he told people to “submerge yourself in the destructive substance.” My new book, Viral, takes a look inside the world of social media’s creators at a time in its short history when the power of social as a huge advertising platform started to be used in a new way. This happened in the middle of the 2010s. Before that, the platforms tried to hide the fact that they were advertising companies. The marketing happened in the gaps between the user content, and it was just a big, annoying thing that kept popping up. A lot of people think that “social-first” is a better way to get people to talk about your brand than traditional advertising. In Viral, I imagine a group of mostly British ex-pats living in Berlin in 2015, when social media marketing was just getting started. They ride the first wave of it, but it takes them into new waters.

The 10 books I’ve chosen here show how social media has changed over the last decade, how it affects people in their daily lives, and how it fits into the bigger picture. They understand how powerful and dynamic it is, as well as how dangerous it can be.

Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

Tolentino’s essay “The I in the Internet,” which is the first chapter in Trick Mirror, is one of the most important texts on how people use social media. It shows how the dream of total connectivity fades over time. Where we were free to be ourselves online, we were now bound to ourselves online in 2012. Web 2.0 is “governed by incentives that make it impossible to be a full person while interacting with it,” says Tolentino. This makes it impossible to be a full person while using Web 2.0. Tolentino says that while the #MeToo movement and her own career as a writer have been made possible by social media, its future is gloomy.

The Twittering Machine by Richard Seymour

Seymour has a wide range of ideas about how the “social industry” hurts both personal and political lives. How the “variable rewards” of social media alerts keep people hooked and depressed. How the “attention economy” encourages trolling and reactionary politics; how the “degradation of information” perpetuated by social media outruns even liars; and how the “degradation of information” perpetuated by social media outruns even the most liar-proof information. I hope you will be ready to delete your Twitter account by the end of this video. Seymour, on the other hand, is still on there because he has to work as a freelance writer and plug into the machine.

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana ZuboffIf

Seymour might not be able to get you to delete, but Zuboff might. She looked at how data-harvesting tech companies (not just social media platforms, but also Google) have taken over our private lives and made money from everything we think, choose, and do. This shows how easy we as citizens have agreed to the process.

The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle by Dave Eggers

“Secrets are lies,” “Sharing is caring,” and “Privacy is theft” are the mantras of The Circle, a Facebook-like company in Eggers’ dystopian novel. Zuboff would later write about how Zuboff saw the loss of private human experience in Eggers’ book. Mia, the main character, starts the book as a newbie and struggles with how much involvement the company wants from her. She ends up going “transparent,” which means that she posts everything she does on the internet in real time.

The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich

Everyone thought it was a good idea when it all started out. Mezrich’s work of racy narrative journalism, on which the movie The Social Network was based, tells the story of a group of dorks who wanted to move social life online and were willing to work hard to get it done. New plutocrats who run social industries didn’t have any persuasive or interesting political ideas, even though they’re some of the most powerful people in the world today. That’s what 11 years later makes sense to me.

Tweets and the Streets by Paolo Gerbaudo

It’s clear that social media has made it easier for people with “marginal or dissident” views to get their ideas out there, and it has given social movements new, unregulated ways to spread. Gerbaudo’s book is a report from 2011, when Time magazine called it “the year of the protester.” At that time, there was a lot of hope for these things to happen. This is what happened: The Arab Spring, the Indignados in Spain, and the Occupy movement all looked like they were going to make a long-term change in the neoliberal world order. Activism and social media use looked like they were working together. Almost a decade later, the revolutionary power of social media doesn’t seem to be as strong as it used to be. In 2014–15, Islamic State was one of the most effective users of social media. There is still a lot we need to know from Garbaudo’s book and his later work on digital activism.

Crudo by Olivia Laing

Crudo by Olivia Laing

A character in a book written by Laing says that “Nothing was funny, or maybe it was all.” The character, who is looking at Twitter in the summer of 2017, says that. Crudo is a great example of writing in the moment, and it shows how the contents of one’s social timeline are folded into one’s daily life. Crudo, which means “raw” in Italian, is a site for people who use social media and want to see everything that’s going on in the world, as well as petty internet squabbles and jealousies.

Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic

In contrast to Crudo or my own novels, Sympathy may be the first mature literary novel written from the point of view of someone who was born and raised in a world where the internet didn’t yet exist. In Sudjic’s story, he talks about how he became obsessed with Instagram. It’s like going down a social media rabbit hole in a dream.

Taipei by Tao Lin

People who study culture have come up with the term “depressive hedonia” to describe how young people these days are stuck in a never-ending loop of unenjoyable stimulation, which can make them sad. This is how Lin’s third novel both describes and mimics this state for the reader. The action of the book, which moves from messing around on social media to taking prescription drugs and back again, is at the same time richly boring and numbingly compelling.

Platform Capitalism by Nick Srnicek

This one is for the eggheads. It would be easy to think of social media companies as a one-of-a-kind thing that came about by accident in the 21st century. Economic historian Srnicek looks at platform capitalism, which is the rise of companies like Facebook, Twitter, Uber, and Airbnb that don’t own any assets and don’t make anything, but instead provide platforms for other businesses to operate on. This is a response to the decline in manufacturing profitability over the last few decades.

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