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.
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?