solitude

Anti Social in a Social WWWorld

How much longer will Mr. Webster acknowledge the word “anonymous”?

solitudePhoto by Payton Guerra

Does anyone remember good-old IRC? I used to spent hours a day, chatting away to other geeks in the #root channel. At one stage I could even call myself a Net-admin since I had my own 100Mbps server from the Amsterdam exchange hooked into an large IRC network. Aah – those were the days.

There was no filling out profiles, no poking and no little green patch requests. All you needed was a nifty nickname and an even spiffier exit message. There was only text. I tend to think that my mindset got stuck in that period when I look back at it now. I was what you could call ‘anti-social’. If I didn’t like what you had to say, you were booted from the channel. If you kept on being a prick, you got K-lined (banned)from the server or even the network. We had no faces. We had no responsibilities.

Fast forward to current day. EVERYONE has a Facebook account. Even our Moms. We all have or had a Myspace page, and if you don’t Tweet, you’re kinda weird. You can’t just have clever and witty remarks anymore to make an impression. People don’t go to eat in an empty cafe.

You’ll have to boast a large number of friends and followers on your social profiles. You have to have pictures of yourself for all to see. They want to know what you ate last night, who your favorite band is, what books you read, and what your sexual preference is. If they don’t like what they see in your profile – they simply won’t connect with you.

So in order to keep up, you have to get socially accepted on the Net, you’re going to have to play the game. Follow random strangers on Twitter. Become ‘friends’ with anyone on Facebook. Share all your photos on Flickr. Let us know what you’ve been listening to on Last.fm. You’ll need to establish your web-presence to get respect. Try not to piss off too many people – Online, word spreads faster than a speeding bullet.

But what if you can’t? What if you don’t want to reach out and connect? What if you have burned one bridge too many? Well I guess you’ll be stuck in second gear for the rest of that ride. There is no turning back this social web 2.0 crap. You’re either in or out. Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s always the possibility to live completely offline, but you will probably soon find that you’ll have less and less people to be social with in real life.

No matter how advanced all this social technology gets, we will always be the weakest link.

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