One of the more tragic aspects in this digital age, when people broadcast all of their opinions, thoughts and emotions to the world, is that it has revealed precisely how shallow and humdrum the great majority of folk are. On the upside, of course, it may well have saved the CIA and FSB millions of dollars at their psychic research facilities when they finally realised that, no matter what the potential intelligence value might be, they absolutely did not want telepathy to ever become a fully developed reality.
The original intention of social networking sites was to allow people to stay in touch with each other and to relay news between themselves easily. Initially, this seemed to work rather well – even if some people did develop a rather disturbing habit of living their lives in the public arena, informing the world of every occurrence or development as though they were living in some kind of a soap-opera. [“Because we’re not really a couple unless we’re a couple on-line.”]
Later, however, it became apparent that almost nothing of any real note happens to most people virtually all of the time. The first evidence for this was observed when Facebookers started notifying their web entourage that they were making some toast or were thinking of getting an early night, and thus it was that, only shortly after this development, on-line networked games emerged – which meant that people could start rushing home from their soul-sucking, paid jobs so that they could devote large amounts of their leisure time to doing soul-sucking, unpaid, imaginary jobs and were then, of course, able to post updates about that. Psychologists were apparently initially fascinated by this development and then suddenly started to leave their chosen profession in droves – although it is unclear whether this was in despair at what they were observing or simply in order that they might devote more time to harvesting imaginary crops from imaginary farms or serving imaginary meals to imaginary customers in imaginary cafes.
The defining feature of what social networking has become, however, is the status update. This was initially intended to be a way to allow friends to see what was currently important or changing in one’s life but since, as we’ve already noted, that’s absolutely nothing for pretty much of the time, users adapted its use to be a way to record things that they found amusing or, worse, to publish some kind of a mission-statement for who they would like to be or how they would like others to believe that they think. This was, of course, almost always harvested from elsewhere on the internet and would then be repeated over and over again so that it spread like a particularly virile poisonous infection across the web (so named, perhaps, because it traps its subjects while they are gradually consumed). It’s almost as if, in this world where pseudo-reality has become more fantastic than fiction, people are prepared to sacrifice the very essence of their souls in exchange for a mockery of what doesn’t quite pass as a philosophical proposition.
There is, of course, nothing more empowering and liberating than copy-and-pasting a vacuous statement of self-worth or opinion as a profile status update – some meaningless platitude or hollow aphorism. Nothing says “I am my own person and an independent thinker” more powerfully. In truth, people seem strangely eager to reduce themselves to meme carriers, mere transmitters of imitation, simply in order to gain a sense of identity, aligning themselves to the perspective of another just to feel a part of some larger collective. Repost this if you are incapable of thinking for yourself and like to save your brain for special occasions like voting on reality television shows.