This is a translation of a comment about identity I did in the Danish newspaper, Berlingske Tidende last week. You can see the original article here.
Remember to call up your best friends so you know what they really feel like. I’m a person who thinks that you don’t know how they really feel if they only exist in your newsfeed. It’s a twisted image of how other people are, and how they use their time. Timeline is a part of the new design and the new functionality of Facebook, which with its new timeline format gives you a profile picture in magazine format, which can make everybody feel like a CoverGirl – or boy. You get an overview of everything you’ve ever done, and you can control yourself what is supposed to be shown, which highlights you want to use to represent yourself and you can upload pictures of how cute you were as a baby if you see that fit. But why have they created the new functionalities of Facebook so it looks into the past instead of looking into the future? Why should we add more things from our past – because some of us have a past where the internet didn’t even exist – not even in the mind of the people who developed it later on. With the new design, it’s the whole person that comes into focus. You take your identity and you make it digital. Facebook is no longer a virtual yearbook as when Mark Zuckerberg created it, it is – for millions of people – their network and a large part of their everyday life, their parallel reality, their dialogue with their friends, and an occasion to polish their legacy- at least the positive side of it.
Facebook is about to become a gathering of 800 million covergirls and photoshopped identities. More Glam. More whitened teeth. Cooler. More fun because it’s something that everybody “likes”.
During the elections in Denmark, there were a lot of people I know who were ready to delete friends on Facebook, who wasn’t made of the same political mindset as themselves. some of those who were either left-winged or right-winged kept telling their friends on Facebook their political truth – their belief in what was good for the country. That, as I see it, is the dark side of Facebook and perhaps all of the social web.
We have turned into little kings who live in our own ecosystem where likes and comments are the ultimate identity bonus, and if these acknowledgments don’t come and we’re not acknowledged, we get in serious doubt about if there’s something wrong with us if we’re not writing the right things – or people simply don’t love us anymore? We don’t like things that strain from our perfect profile – if we disagree with someone on Facebook, it’s an almost impossible step to take to confront them with it – it takes such a toll, to go against the network and the community.
This scary scenario is well-known and used a lot these days: You tell facebook about your perfect world and they use it to earn more money and target their ads even more – so they can raise the price pr. click.
Remember that personal data is the currency of the future. Byt the fact remains that Facebook has a patent on closeness on the social web, patent on storyliving where you tell your best stories by documenting them.
Because your list of friends on Facebook lives on inside of peoples heads, also even if they don’t use 50 percent of their online time on it. It’s a twisted image of, how other people really are, and what they are using their time for.
Me? I’m eating a burger for the fifth day in a row, but I take a shot of some raw food, which I distribute on Instagram – content that is automatically posted on Facebook. I write in my status that I am at a networking meeting, but I’m drinking a beer somewhere in the sun.
Because why should I use Facebook to tell you what my reality is like? Facebook is a universe in itself. its future is great and filled with cover girls/boys, who all are known enough to Digg the Facebook identity thing. And even though it’s cool and even though a rather large part of all of us loves Facebook – it’s a bit shallow.
So what can we do about that? Why should we show off some of the ugly on the internet? How important is it to be real instead of just being trustworthy? You can say that we, as social web users need to write things on our profiles, that break the perfect image just a little bit.
But why should we do that in such extreme measures when we don’t get a lot out of being real? it’s not important in the social media world “to be” instead of “to state”. You won’t get anything out of being judged on who you really are, instead of what actions you take on the internet. We don’t have anything that measures us on how real we are out there – just how influential we are (brought to you by the world of influencer measurement startups such as Klout and peer index). What’s really important is to be real in the real world – or transcend what we postulate on the social web to real life. It’s in real life that things become well… real.
So remember to call your best friends so you know what they really feel like. Because I don’t believe you know their reality if they only exist in a newsfeed.