This is manifested through billions of pictures, videos, and comments cascading via various social media networks that not only eradicated the virtue of thinking as expressed in posts and comments, but also made it rather immaterial.
The actual incitive aspect of television was thoroughly discussed by Bourdieu in his two lectures, mentioning as an example a potential armed conflict that almost broke out between Greece and Turkey in 1996 on Imia/Kardak Island.
This incitive factor has moved to our social media, but with many more participants engaged in the incitement process, as evident in the Russian-Ukrainian war that is about to pass its first year, in the US Capitol attack in 2021, or in the alleged role played by China, Russia, and Israel in influencing election results in some countries.
These are just some flagrant examples of the manipulative and inciteful aspect of social media, and it wouldn't be unfair to say that this very aspect is often exploited as a tool for ideological indoctrination.
Hence, recent statements made on Twitter following Elon Musk's takeover of the platform and the modifications he made to its policies and work mechanisms, have become largely racist and right-wing, advocating white supremacy among other similar themes.
This is compared with Twitter's content prior to Musk's purchase. For the sake of his public image, Musk might justify this shift as part of the unresolved dilemma of allowing everyone freedom of speech, including those who commit or incite hate crimes.
However, everyone knows that his considerations are strictly financial and profit-oriented. It should be noted here that in 2022, US companies spent some $56 billion on commercial promotion via social media, including Twitter.
According to data collected by Statista, an average Internet user would globally spend around 147 minutes on social media on a daily basis, which marks a 90-minute increased compared to data from 2012.
Likewise, when it comes to book reading, it is noteworthy that one third of US teenagers did not read a single book throughout 2021 due to their obsession with social media and e-games.
On a related issue, according to the book-reading app Basmo, printed books are still predominant in the US, China, the UK, Japan, and South Korea, which are the five countries with the highest global rates of book reading.
However, the e-books market has also been growing in the past few years. If this should reveal anything, it is that the massive prevalence of the Internet in general, and social media in particular, does not make these tools the absolute means of knowledge acquisition.
Rather, avid readers who seek knowledge still resort to printed books to fulfill their passion.
Difficulty to verify facts
Another thinker who, like Bourdieu, had a particular interest in the dangers of the virtual world was the late Italian thinker, historian, and novelist Umberto Eco.
In his discussions of the issue, he focused on the flow of gargantuan amounts of information, particularly false information, through social media, which makes the process of their timely verification extremely difficult.
Eco stated that even if one piece of information was later proven wrong, it would have already gained popularity and had its desired effect on its recipients.
A relatively recent example of this is Facebook's most popular news item during the 2016 US election campaign, which alleged that Pope Francis was in favour of Donald Trump's candidacy.
Social media's fake news was a source of great concern for Eco. Thus, and prior to the ChatGPT era, where the virtual world has won over the real one, Umberto Eco wrote an article titled "Dear Grandson, Learn by Heart".
In the article, he addressed the teenagers of our modern era, telling them: "The virtual world is a trap that will keep you inside the house and prevent you from meeting real girls," adding: "A day will come when you shall find out that real girls are the best choice".
Coming back to Bourdieu's book "On television and Journalism," he also tackled television's presentation of the Olympic Games, noting that the timings, styles, and methods used to screen these sport competitions reduced them to a mere TV event, rather than real sport activities.
Hence, according to Bourdieu, no one should claim that s/he watched these games, but rather selected glimpses of them. In another chapter of his book, Bourdieu tackled the theme of 'trends' or topics that were high on the agenda among journalists and commentators of his time.
Nowadays, the word 'trend' has become a key term in the world of social media. All social media networks are constantly informing us on 'what is trending'.
Thus, what Bourdieu noticed regarding television's coverage of the Olympic Games in the 90s is even more valid and applicable to everything in our modern era.
In other words, under the banner of 'trending topics' we seem to talk about everything, but we also talk about nothing.
Therefore, if you see debaters inside a newsroom somewhere today commenting on something trending on social media, it should come as no surprise if they dismiss it in the same breath, saying: "Now that this isn't trending online anymore, let's move on to another subject."