In case you aren’t aware, we are living in the Wild West of the Internet age. We are flooding into a new territory that has no pre-established boundaries, or establishments, or roads or any other landmarks of a civilized community. We are making it up as we go and filling the space the way we kow how, but in no particularly laid out order, plan or foresight. The wild West is a good metaphor, but mind you it is just a metaphor as this place is a completely new territory where spacial limitations are gone and everything we need in terms of knowlegde and communication is available to us in the palm of our hand, on a screen in our kitchen, car, bathroom. All places, all at once. Omnipresent.
Some of the first inhabitants have played a large role in shaping this world for us and our current perceptions on what it all implies. For the most part we have been at the whim of the boldest, most timely and tenacious pioneers. But as more settlers enter this new land, I think that, my hope is that, we will start molding it to fit our needs.
There have been some great articles in the Atlantic lately about disconnecting and the need to manage our online world. I feel strongly that an escapist mentality is not the way to go. Alexandra Samuel, author of the blog “Love your Life Online” wrote a great “Plug in Better Manifesto” that offers some sound advice on how to manage your online life.
Here is a mini manifesto from me:
“Facebook is not really your friend.”
Facebook, the patriarch of our online social life has come to represent our entire social network. Undoubtedly there is a ton of value in having this space to store everyone under one roof, but the value to us as a tool for expression is slim and shallow. The vastness and diversity of the facebook network is huge and thus mixes every identity I have ever had, high schooler, camper, teacher, employee, co-worker etc in one place. The result: censorship and confusion.
Meanwhile, a space where I can post to my closest friends the deeper or more personal parts of my life, the ones that matter, did not exist.
Over the past few weeks I have been engaging in Path with six of my closest techie friends. It has been great! Beyond the beautifully designed interface, I love what I can do: post photos, update them on my whereabouts, feelings, cute guys I see etc. and vice versa. This is a tool that brings me closer to the people I care about, this is a tool I want in my life.
Facebook, you have a role, but your role is growing less and less important everyday. We complain about our lack of time and yet, we do not guard it carefully. My close friends deserve my attention, my acquaintances, not so much. Facebook, stop pretending you care about anything other than my data, I know better.
We are the map makers and we are the creators of this new landscape, this wild, wild west. We need to come together to make it beautiful, more human and true. Thank you Path for providing a way out of the chaos! (but please don’t be evil again)