What’s totally real about social networks…
We’ve all seen Matrix, and probably Avatar, maybe Surrogates (2009, w Bruce Willis), and no doubt other films where the movie’s characters inhabit either a real or an unreal world via another self: an ‘avatar’, a surrogate, or a computer programme.
Most of us today inhabit some kind of on-line world at least a part of the time, into which we project ourselves; whether as a fictional self in a game world, or as our real selves via Facebook and the like. (Albeit that our “real” self may be sanitised, scrubbed up, photoshopped, and wearing his or her “Sunday best” persona.)
Putting aside the gaming and the fully fictional play, I’m not especially interested in the frequent yabber about what some may consider an “unreality” of sorts in the extent of our online communications, or some of the expressed concerns around it.
Western families have been sitting down not talking to each other, with their eyes firmly fixed on a screen, for years. These days the choices of what they can watch are almost without limit, they can critique it, they can be anywhere in the world in less than a second, they have virtually infinite access to information – even, with a few skills, information they’re not supposed to have – and whether or not they choose to they can make the acquaintance of anyone from any walk of life anywhere, and indeed they can make the acquaintance of several all at once.
WHICH is what I’ve been doing a great deal of this last week, and indeed quite a lot over the last few months.
I’ve been an on-liner since 1995, soon after the internet became a public phenomenon. Even “way back then” I emailed a great deal and participated in on-line discussion groups with people from all over the globe. Since 2000 I’ve been designing websites and online facilities for companies I’ve worked for and consulted with; and perhaps a little behind the 8-ball I’ve been on Facebook for 3 years, creating the Trying God’s Patience page a little over 3 months ago. I don’t tweet, although I’m considering it… I get pretty much all my news via the web, a good deal of it via alternative sources. I subscribe to a number of blogs and am a participant in many Facebook groups, some small, some very large.
A week ago I started a group – for owners of Inspiration-focused Facebook pages. There’s about 50-odd of us, the majority American and women, but there are several men, and others of us are from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK. We appear to be a range of ages, judging on folks’ photos, from 20s to 60s I’d say, with a predominance in their 40s.
On the whole, these people want to make a difference in the world. They’ve looked around and they’re not entirely convinced things are going as they should. They don’t like the political “industry”, there’s far too much violence, people seem barely able to be nice to each other any more, corporate greed has assimilated us, and selfishness has taken over.
How else does one go about changing that?
WHOLE REVOLUTIONS have been started and waged in several countries in the last year with the aid of Facebook and Twitter, and shutting social networks down is a major line of defense in countries wishing to regulate or quash social response.
There is an enormous amount of utter rubbish online everywhere – there are also vast swathes of knowledge and information, and many, many people creating global communities of understanding, growth and development, making a difference in the life of individuals, nations and indeed the world. And NOT ONE does it in isolation; every page, every individual, is connected to others, and so the spirit of kindness, the spirit of reconciliation, the spirit of revolution, the spirit of cooperation and community, breathes deeper, expands and fills a greater percentage of the global consciousness.
The more the merrier.