Thursday, May 06, 2010

online identities

A lot of pre-modern cultures shared a belief that photographs can steal your soul - trapping something as essential and personal as your face in a magic box and spiriting it away. So would mirrors... during funerals, mirrors would be covered. 
You could consider it a ridiculous belief, but belief it is - the subject matter doesn't matter, what matters is your faith, your psychic investment in that abstract. Caught by a sudden, unexpected flash, Tribesman X worries about his soul, Brand Manager Y worries about revenue loss due to IPR abuse and trademark violation, Celeb Z sees a loss of image and star value... we all worry. We worry about some intangible, indefinable thing being taken away from us... yet we put it right back out there every chance we get, in other media. 
How much of ourselves doesn't even belong to us anymore? Our lives, images, plans, feelings, hopes, dreams, triumphs and disasters... all out there, all for the world to see. To respond to. To discuss among themselves about. 
When you ride a tiger, you can't get off. We aren't riding a tiger. We're riding a kraken, an island on the back of a whale, blissfully unaware of where it's taking us... 
One can say that a digital profile is as much a part of the personal self as any insubstantial notion of the mind, psyche, soul... whether it resides in the brain, the heart, the liver... or a server farm in Norway. But I believe there's a fundamental difference. A policy change in Palo Alto should not reduce my sense of self-worth. Nor should a random comment, like (or lack of them), etc. Yet - they do. We post. They respond. We re-respond. 
But more than that... why do we place so much into this? Time that will never come back. Thought. Emotion. For what? If we enjoy sermonizing from our soapboxes, we should do it knowing why we're there. 
Let's not become carried away in collective groupthink. 
Start asking Why. Start understanding what you get... and what you lose... and if it's worth it in the end. 

1 comment:

  1. "why do we place so much into this?"

    My question too. And wars are fought and demons are made out of who exhibited an interest via liking and commenting and responding and who didn't. Everybody is looking for affirmation from somewhere....and I guess that is often translated/read as "love"

    I had a similar post written here....just thought of sharing :)