The 'social' one


If there is one thing, the critically and commercially successful movie 'The Social Network' taught us, it would be the increasingly desperate usage of the internet by people for socializing. While its potency of compounding ones web of contacts is unparalleled, its consequences are yet to be fully understood.
Facebook is leading the charge of a social network revolution that, in my opinion, is challenging the current definitions of society, friendships and relationships.
For the naturally gregarious kind, this revolution has provided yet another channel for widening their already burgeoning list of known. For the introverted, shy, awkward guy in your class, facebook is nothing short of a boon. It gives him the opportunity to effectively re-invent himself in the cyber-world. mind you, this is not similar to online life simulations like the second life. While such a transformation affects only the individual, transformations on a social network, affects 'who you are' with regard to your friends, colleagues and loved ones.
This transformation could be self-inflicted with the singular objective of getting accepted into.. say the most happening online group or befriended by the most beautiful girl in school. while it may on paper seem harmless, i believe it a harbinger of critical questions about the integrity of ones identity.
lets say that there is a shy guy in school who wants to catch the eye of a girl in his class. his introvert nature makes any form of direct contact exceedingly difficult. so he goes to his social network site and adds her as a friend. as he is in the same class as the girl, there is a good chance that she will accept. once that occurs, he has at his disposal a ton of information about the girl. what movies does she like, what kind of music is she into, who is her favorite director etc. information that may take years to acquire through direct contact is made available at the click of a button. he may then proceed to absorb it and try to strike conversations online on these topics. music he has never heard of before, may now become his favorite. he may become 'a fan' of whatever or whomsoever she is. in this way, he morphs his identity, his online one.
let say that it worked. one day the girl approaches him and starts talking about the latest album of 'their' favorite band. what does he do? obviously to avoid getting caught he starts to pretend like he is the 'online' him. in an instant, his own favorite music gets banished and gets replaced by stuff that the pretty girl likes. a little bit of his identity is lost.
where does this leave us? in this grand social experiment the next generation will be the guinea pigs. they will be the 'facebook' generation. i bet by the time they are 10, they would have already established their online networks and the 'socially' weaker ones would have already started aping the likes and dislikes of the popular. individuality would be lost and as darwin would say 'survival of the fittest' would reign supreme, even for identities.

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