Meatspace: living in the social media age



Last week we paid host to We Are Social’s first ever book reading. The book in question was Meatspace, written by Nikesh Shukla. It’s a novel that tackles the often unfortunate, often hilarious repercussions of living in the social media age.

Our own creative whizzkidult Nick Hearne produced the cover. If you look closely you’ll notice that those little cubes aren’t pixels, but various meats of all sorts and colours. During the reading, the pair also regaled us with tales of their marketing and publicity antics, including sending a lamb chop into space because, well… ‘meat’… ‘space’… I’ll let you connect the dots on that one.


Nick was kind enough to sling a proof copy of the book my way to have a read. For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the book was how aware the book’s protagonist, Kitab, was of the isolating and alienating effects of social media, coupled with his inability to let it go. I think this situation is fairly typical, although in most of our cases, not quite to the same extent. Eager for more info, I asked Nikesh why he thinks this is:

With the ability to look anything up, ask anyone a question and engage with everyone who shares your interests, profession etc – we’re losing our sense of curiosity. Often in storytelling we’re told that the journey is more important than the thing you’re looking for, especially in ‘quest’ stories. Now we can just google the answer, we lose the bravery to undergo a journey. Why don’t we sack it off? Because what is more attractive than the ability to look anything up, ask anyone a question or engage with anyone who shares our interests.

Don’t be fooled, however, the book isn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, it’s bloody funny in places and there is light at the end of the tunnel for Kitab. With this in mind, I wanted to find out if Nikesh thought that there was a similar hope for all of us – if somehow the digital world and ‘meatspace’ could be reconciled and integrated together in a meaningful way.

I think I’ve had to consign the internet to a ‘tool’ I use to research, engage and promote. I’ve spent ages working out who I am online, curating my online persona so that it isn’t just my offline one digitised. I know why I’m online and that helps me to know the best way to engage with it. I think the two mostly exist at the expense of each other, but the way they can accentuate each other is important. I don’t hate on the internet, I’m just waiting for the seachange to happen that allows us to use the internet more responsibly. Because it’s all new.

Remember when you first heard of your friends meeting boyfriends and girlfriends online and you saying, what if they’re a serial killer or you don’t know anything about them? That’s the norm now. Because it’s been integrated into our 360 experience. I think the integration will happen. We’re just ‘patient zeroes’ for future generations.

If this blog post has piqued your interest, then I encourage to grab a copy of the book. It’s a good read and a fresh take on the peculiarly modern problem of living with a whole world of distractions at our fingertips. As Matt Haig says, ‘Meatspace is funny. Damn funny. You should really switch off your computer and read it.’