Because context is important, if you have not done so, I suggest you read parts 1 and 2 of this rumination.
Before the Web, the goal of most young people was to be popular. Then face-to-face contact determined a person’s popularity. Society said that personal interaction, almost skin to skin if you will by looking into another person’s eyes made a difference to where you stood on the social ladder. Because the Internet has no personality, despite technological advances, it is as if many people are still in middle school, a serious issue.
It is time to grow-up. But maturity seems to be impossible for most people. Instead, for the young but not exclusively to them, “like” has become their operative goal. Accumulating “likes” makes a site or post on a site look better than it really is. Why is it necessary to list or have as many as 800 friends on Facebook? Does it define for the user self-confidence, or is it at its base, a deep insecurity? To me this obvious sign of immaturity is something that permeates society as a whole. The Internet is conducive to lying. It is a stealth breeder of untruth. Will constant sociological investigations into what defines people in the digital age, an odd academic wave that creates jobs, reveal that what takes place on these sites is not real or typical of society but only reflection of a turbulent moment in time experienced by our young? Or is it? How can anyone, I wonder, have 800 friends, or even want that many? Maybe Facebook works for these users because it allows a person to easily keep track of his or her life without much thought of what that life really is. Or what life can be? Should I go so far to say, what life should be? But that is for the individual to decide.
I assume that the maker of a Website believes that connectivity is a metaphor for survival. Forget about the vast sums of money that might accrue to the creator of a social media site. It is the unwritten assumption that connectivity rules now and will forever that I find frightening. If it is not as I assume it is, than we are dealing with the worst in crass cynicism. Fascism of the mind is at work here. It denies the power of the individual in favor the power of a determined mob. There is, however, an unexpected wrinkle. According to news reports, some people on social media sites are contending that their online behavior should not be open for all to see. Oh? If not public, what is it? As soon as someone posts something, anything, on the Internet it is automatically public. Even if the posting lasts no more than a few seconds, it is still public. Once posted, the post lives forever, somewhere, someplace. Anyone who complains about being under the microscope because he or she posts parts of his or her life on a public site has little to support a contention of privacy. Privacy is important to me. It is less important to the current generation who live on the Internet. The lack of privacy is another reason for my not joining or participating openly in any of these sites where my life and thoughts are there for everyone to see.
As a writer, I control what I want published. I tell you only what I want you to know about me without you knowing how many friends I have or even those who want to befriend me. Just because it is on the Internet does not mean access to who I am is yours for the taking.
If I am more self sufficient, and more in touch with myself, it means that I trust my instincts. I do not always require the approval of anyone else in my orbit or outside it, as long as what I do brings no one harm to anyone. It is worth repeating that I do not fear being alone with myself, especially in my mind. I actually enjoy being there. Usually, I find myself infinitely more interesting than most, and importantly, I like to think I am never boring. Visceral, the ability to feel, to touch, to experience the sensation of something outside myself is more important to me than life in cyber space.
Next up is a meditation on intimacy. Did I hear you say, “selfie?” Don’t get me started. Wait for my attack on the “selfie.” It is coming soon.