It was a trick question. My purpose wasn't to extrapolate what McLuhan would actually have said if he had lived to see the age of the social network. The intention was to use the question as a jumping off point to create a series of probes, throw them into the conversational mix, and hopefully stimulate some fresh thinking.
I'll expand some of the ideas that emerged in upcoming blog posts. For now, here they are in the order that they were posted over the course of half a day on Twitter and Google+:
- The social network is a shared virtual environment that is as psychologically immersive as a 3D virtual world.
- Social networks will eventually spawn new cultural forms, but we experience it today through a xenophobic small town mentality.
- We experience our social stream as personal space rather than shared commons. That's why we're so offended at unwanted intrusion.
- Some react to the pseudonymous in social networks as they would to masked, costumed people trying to interact in physical life.
- Given that we're all exploring a new social paradigm, it makes sense to give those who are pushing the boundaries a little slack.
- The mere integration of the pseudonymous into social networks assaults mainstream participants' mental models of personal identity
- Pervasive immersion in the social network is deeply transforming our psyche in ways that are mostly invisible to us. Stay tuned!
- It takes disciplined emotional intelligence to take full responsibility for negative feelings we experience in social networks.
- Social networks can facilitate intolerance or reconciliation, suspicion or trust, trivia or wisdom. It's up to us.