Sunday, January 19, 2014

Occupy Ourselves

I took the annual Social Networking Narcissism Test recently, scanning through my last 50 tweets and asking if I’d choose to follow myself based on what I saw. I did okay. But this year I have a higher goal. I want to perfect the art of self-aggrandization masquerading as self-deprecation: Tweets that seem like I'm making fun of you when I'm really making fun of me, while underneath it all actually making fun of you.

It’s interesting how strongly people can respond to those they know only through virtual virtual identities. Idolizing and demonizing are equally delusional, but the pedestal is infinitely more fragile from on top than underneath. Although I can whole-heartedly recommend pseudonymous identity for enhanced creative freedom, I can't make that testimonial for fostering lasting close relationships.

Hiding physical world identity through a pseudonym makes it is possible to expose to the world who we really are inside. In some cases that's a bad idea. Wouldn't it be great if people came with warning labels? Too bad it isn't practical. Not enough surface area. Some people are nervous about the cultural impact of our move to a more virtual life. Prophets of doom since Socrates predicted new tech would change the world as they knew it. They were 100% right. On the change. Not the doom. So don’t be too upset about anything you see on social networks. There have been no deaths directly attributable to tweets. Yet.

No matter how immersed humans are within the virtual world, they are primates at heart. Trans-humanism without some sort of psychologically corrective practice just extends the human ego into new self-absorbed frontiers. Giving people ready access to unlimited information hasn't made them smarter so far; much better at trivia, but certainly no wiser. Information sharing makes consumption feel like creativity. It's not. Play with the paradigm for god's sake!

The social network you are immersed within is more a product of our minds than of the software. Attention is a teleport system that instantly transports our consciousness from place to place. So we should avoid Black Holes. Like this one. Maybe what this brave new world needs is a new revolutionary movement: Occupy Ourselves.

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