Before you hit the “Share” or “Like” button, I want you to take a step back and picture yourself and what you’re doing from a detached point of view. Have you ever stopped and wondered what you look like in the eyes of someone from an older generation? What your grandparents would think of your status updates on Facebook? Or your tweets on Tweeter?
Sometimes we’re so caught up on the wave and rush of things that we take them for granted. Because everybody else is doing it, it gets a kind of super pass inside our brains and it becomes unquestionable and right. Free from suspicion and the extra effort of thinking.
Take for instance, habitual picture-taking. It’s fairly normal these days to take a picture of your meal before you even savor it. And it’s customary to upload it and say a few things about it. True enough, to be a responsible citizen of the Net, there are certain behaviors you voluntarily and involuntarily adhere to.
If you were just a bystander scrolling down and casually comparing one status report to another, it all starts to blur into one giant monotonous buzz. An endless prattle of small things that not only occupy the mind of the originator himself but is magnified countless times into the plugged, synced minds of the network.
You ask yourself: What merits a good status update? What would be just a waste of other people’s time?
At this point you’d be scratching the surface of an iceberg with a pen. Because to your question: “What is a worthwhile status update?” the answer is: Everything.
Social Networks feed on the very connectedness of people – no matter the quality or means of the bond. So it makes perfect sense that the more you post, the more you reach out and affect or touch (ephemerally) the lives of others. And you would’ve done your job as a responsible member of the Network.
But trouble comes when it starts to rule the rest of your life. For starters, your rest time, your work time, your “real” socialization time - soon, your whole lifestyle – changes.
The quest for a content’s “virality” is also often invaded, tainted, and driven by commercial forces. For instance, business owners and marketers have discovered the unique power of kittens and puppies in this golden age of SNS. Although I’m glad to think that this generation’s pets are enjoying more care and attention than their ancestors, there’s more to it than meets the star-struck eye. People “in-the-know” waste no time in maximizing and exploiting trends and come up with more and more devious gimmicks to grab and hold attention.
Before you know it, everybody’s clamoring for the “cutest” pet photos. You have most guys trying to come out as animal-lovers.
A good citizen of a network should have most of his life pinned and posted up there on the Great Wall. Every landmark, blunder, mediocrity, greatness, celebration, quarrel, angst etc. should be shared.
Either you update everybody or you cease to exist in the virtual eyes of the world.
Sure, it’s all also about hanging out with your friends (old and new) and having the grandest of times, but sometimes this takes second priority to the very act of informing people about it. Of announcing it to everybody else.
In fact, a man born several generations ahead of us would find it strange – more, downright shameful – if his mom showed his baby pictures to a complete stranger, right?
These days that’s pretty ordinary and guys themselves do it of their own accord.
Guys – at least those who are fairly popular in the networks – tend to talk more than the average guy generations ago. That’s what “Sharing” is all about after all. For sure, becoming extra sensitive and expressive of our feelings, thoughts and comings and goings isn’t a bad thing. In fact, counselors encourage this for healthy, lasting relationships.
Still you have to wonder.
Where has the original Man from Mars gone? The one who kept things to himself and whose actions spoke louder than any tweet. Or, if he didn’t leave, where are his unique, special, charming-in-their-own-right qualities? What new values have replaced them?
And shouldn’t anybody ever miss the guy?
He’s probably still there, among the less recognizable faces; living in the periphery of the system, content and quiet in his own hermitage and isolation. Perhaps forming his own unseen brotherhoods where the light of the connections doesn’t fall. A minority, so to speak.
For sure, I’m not likely to stop doing what every other guy out there is doing, nor have I ever entertained the thought of encouraging anyone to do so – to jump over the cliff of social suicide. No, I’ll most likely keep on updating and being updated. This pile of words may be nothing but another meaningless babble. Or a nostalgic (outdated machismo) trip.
But it all reminds you of lines from Brad Pitt in “Fight Club” :