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The new instantaneity: how social media are helping us privilege the (politically) correct over the true

A Research Paper by Heidrun Herzogenrath-Amelung, published by Media Culture and Society

In this journal article, explores the meaning of ‘truth’ in the digital age. The full article has been published by Media Culture and Society, and the abstract reproduced here with kind permission.

The recent sacking of the eminent scientist Tim Hunt from one of the United Kingdom’s leading research institutions is only the latest in a series of cases where public individuals have been derided for comments made in jest on social media, with serious consequences for their professional and personal lives. This article discusses the case of Tim Hunt as an example of the extent to which the privileging of the correct over the true which has long pervaded media discourse is taken to the extreme by the instant-response culture of social media. It points to the emergence of a new form of instantaneity enabled by these networked forms of communication that serves to reinforce systemic inaction rather than the change widely associated with these technologies. It draws on philosophy and critical theory as useful conceptual frameworks for highlighting the ways in which Twitter and co. increasingly call us to action but crowd out thought, thereby passing over opportunities for real social change.

This article should be referenced as: Herzogenrath-Amelung, H. (2016). The New Instantaneity: How Social Media are Helping us Privilege the (Politically) Correct over the True. Media, Culture & Society. vol. 38 no. 7 1080-1089.

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Heidrun Herzogenrath-Amelung

About Heidrun Herzogenrath-Amelung

Dr Heidi Herzogenrath-Amelung joined CAMRI in 2013 and is currently Senior Lecturer in Media & Communication. She gained her PhD on Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of technology and digital surveillance from University of Leeds in 2015. Previously she also gained an MA in Communication Studies from the University of Leeds, as well as a BA in Media Studies and English from the University of Regensburg, Germany.

Heidi’s research focuses on critical approaches to media & communication technologies, more specifically she is interested in questions of surveillance and governmental & corporate use of citizens’ data. Her work is grounded in medium theory, Critical Theory and philosophy of technology. Heidi is the course leader of the BA in Digital Media & Communication, and teaches on a variety of BA and MA modules in media & communications theory. Her work has been published in the journals Triple C: Communication, Capitalism & Critique and Media, Culture & Society.


Heidrun Herzogenrath-Amelung
1 September 2016
Published By
Media Culture and Society
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