This Techcrunch post, The Illusion of Social Networks, is worth thinking about. The author Semil Shah suggests that we have a tendency to use social networks to create illusions for our audiences. And over time these illusions compound to create something that may not reflect real life. It’s a type of socical psychomanipulation.
But I wonder if Shah overstates the shady side of human social conduct. I’m more optimistic about the promise of human connectedness. The crowd is smarter than we think. And while we can create any story possible, it’s ultimately the responsibility of the listening masses to decide what’s real. It’s our job to ask the hard questions. Be it television, the web, or our own homes, we’re individually responsible for who we let into our world.
This tendency to fool one another isn’t unique to social networks. I see it all around me and it raises the bigger question of what’s real? What’s authentic? This question is hard enough to answer IRL.
Either way, Shah’s essay should serve to make us think about how and why we present ourselves the way we do.