Tag Archives: twitter

What if Facebook Told the Truth?

Social media is on everyone’s mind nowadays…bloggers, corporations, college students, retirees, mid-level dental practitioners, etc. We are all talking about it. For better or worse, we’re putting social media on our salads, marinating pork chops in it, and using it to style our hair.

Gah! I'm nameless!

Some see the advent of social media positively, as an exciting new frontier, the way of the future, and a symbol of human innovation. However, others fear the advent of social media signals our civilization’s decline, with meaningful relationships being transformed into an insipid system of likes and reblogs.

One criticism I hear consistently is that social media networks allow their users to construct false portraits of who they are. They can choose a flattering profile picture, carefully select their favorite movies, books, and music in order to put forth their best self, or at least the self they want to present to the world.

In theory, this might make it more difficult to tell if a person is a loser, but it seems the fools are still easy to spot. People shamelessly admit, with no hint of irony, that they love Jersey Shore and Gossip Girl, that they only read texts written in Ottoman Turkish, and that they prefer to listen to Disney classics covered by a famous jazz flutist you’ve never heard of.

Perhaps it’s most frightening to consider that our facebook profile is the most accurate portrayal available of our mind-self. Nevertheless, the information is still selected by the user, for the most part.

But what if facebook told the truth about us, all of it, in addition to the profile we create and the photos and posts we censor? What if, in addition to statuses filled with articles, Bible verses, smiley faces, and humorous thoughts, facebook also posted things like, “had black thoughts of hatred towards innocent person” or “took the last cookie out of spite” or “hurt someone on purpose without remorse?”

What if facebook recorded our interactions with others and organized it in a virtue and vice section, with characteristics such as selfishness, unfaithfulness, joy, and kindness. And what if it filled in the other categories too, revealing our guilty pleasures and secret loves, like country music and chick flicks and picking our toes?

If facebook reflected not only how we see ourselves, but how we interact with others and how others see us, what would that be like? Are these things already apparent? Would we be any better for knowing the truth? When we knew the dirt on everyone, would we lose all faith in humanity because of our iniquity and poor taste?

If it really showed everything, including our struggles, our darkest thoughts, and the sense of hopelessness we all sometimes share, I think in most cases we would see that we are more alike than different, even the people that like country music; the disclosures would reveal a common humanity that is not at all shameful and probably not even surprising.

Isn’t this precious? I’m imagining a reaffirmation of humanity through the use of an omniscient social network. Orwell, what are your thoughts?

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YouCave: An Unsocial Media Website

Leave. Me. Alone. -YouCave

Do you struggle with finding enough alone time? Do you secretly resent your friends for all those hours you wasted hanging out with them playing Settlers of Catan?

Have you ever fled to a beach resort, excited for uninterrupted internet usage in the lobby? Were you then dismayed to find your friends’ intrusion continued through the devilish devices of social media? Are you frustrated with how your computer has been transformed from a haven of solitude into a communal nightmare, where even your self-diagnosis for back pain at WebMD can be shared?

Your FaceFriends have the potential to know everything you’re doing online, and soon full disclosure will become mandatory, forced upon us by advertisers and facebook overlords. We will be too busy sharing our favorite brand of toothpaste to realize our white shirts have turned to yellow from body oil because we have sat in our own filth for months. This is the future we face.

Welcome to YouCave, an unsocial media website. Think of YouCave as the ultimate form of online solitude, the antidote to social media.  No YouCave profile can ever be connected. The friend requests that are made will be responded to with an automatic “Leave. Me. Alone.” accompanied by a picture of this cat. This response is simultaneously tweeted, facebooked, instagramed, and foursquared to all of the unfortunate user’s applications to keep them from making the same mistake again. They will learn to love the quiet.

You can post whatever you want to your YouCave wall, e.g. Yahoo News Articles, kitty pictures, memes, etc. because no one will ever see it, not even you. After posting something to your wall, it automatically begins sinking into the depths of the YouCave Lake. Through the use of expensive animation, you can even watch as your newly posted information slowly descends into the inky blackness, disappearing forever.

Each user is only allowed to upload one picture. All other uploaded pictures will instantly sink into the depth. This picture will sit in the middle of the screen, surrounded by dark colors and a texture that connotes a cave like environment. In addition, all YouCavers have the choice of turning on sound effects, such as the cavern water drip and an occasional furtive scurry. After being welcomed into the cave environment, most of our users simply stare at the screen, breathing in the solitude like a sweet elixir. At least, this is what I do. I have no idea about anyone else because YouCavers do not share information.

If you’re tired of your life becoming one giant show for the comment and criticism of others, join YouCave and get back the life you deserve, one of complete isolation and darkness. Enjoy.

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Welcome to the Twitosphere

Some of you more technically savvy folks may have heard about twitter, a site that allows you to share 125 character statements with people who “follow” you or subscribe to your posts. It can be used for a variety of things: political activism, awkward online flirting, finding out about steals around town, stalking celebrities from far away, being overwhelmed by the amount of newspaper articles you will never read, sharing too-intimate and/or banal details about your personal life, etc. Others of you may roll your eyes disdainfully and proudly state that you do not tweet since you don’t think highly enough of yourself to assume others would want to know what you have to say; you are probably correct. Others, of course, simply have not had cause or time to enter the twitosphere. Regardless of my, your, or Mrs. Ackerman’s opinion on the site, it has become a pillar of the social networking age.

Tonight I had the great pleasure of sitting round a table at a roof top cafe in posh Zamalek with some twitter activists. During the revolution of Jan. 25, both twitter and facebook were used extensively in order to organize the protesters and avoid the regime’s arm of political oppression that could shut down and monitor cell phone networks and other traditional forms of communication with ease. It remains one of the preferred ways to communicate  current political or other events and there is a community and shared culture among the activtwits, or twitter activists. That word is not real–I just made it up. Feel free to use it but please cite me.

Last Tuesday, there was a tweet-up party where people  known only by their handle (name on twitter) gathered with their fellow tweeters avatar to avatar and twittered the night away, presumably talking Egyptian politics, etc. I was not present, so I only speak on what I heard through the grape vine. Ironically, or perhaps fortuitously, that very same night the clashes broke out randomly in downtown, so the whole gaggle of activtwits rushed down and did what they do best: tweet and avoid being hit by cans of tear gas.

Speaking of tear gas, one of the gentlemen present apparently recently acquired some gas masks from the trunk of a guy’s car out in Ataba, in preparation for the big demonstrations planned for Friday. He said we were welcome to come, but I think I may have made plans to sleep in and stay at home already. Alaa al-Aswani said that he was going to be there too.

The entire world of twitter and activtwits remains completely unknown to many Egyptians however. I hesitate to use numbers or “facts” because I’m unaware of them (see blog post by someone more knowledgeable), but it is my perception that there is some degree of separation between the activists of the revolution and the average Muhammad who is getting tired of the unrest. There is also the issue of class, as not all are wealthy enough to access the internet readily or tweet from their blackberries, so it remains to be seen how these two currents in Egyptian society will interact with one another.

I’ll be watching the tweets roll in from Tahrir on Friday.

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