last week I switch to the Facebook Timeline feature and the first thing that I did was stop and gasp about what my life was like in 2005. I was in the second batch of facebook-ers after it initially left the Harvard-Yale scene. I was a recent graduate working in the real world to design vehicle interiors, but my life style was still very undergrad-centric…LOL…it was actually undergrad on steroids because my income changed drastically.
I think that the generations that were far past their undergraduate experience were received the social networking revolution differently than those of us who are 30 and under. Friends that I went to undergrad with who are in the 30-40 year old range continue (6 years later) to say that they are “too old” for Facebook, reluctant to use it as a tool.
But I see something much different when I talk to the second half of the millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000). In my experience they feel as though they should be able to post whatever they want on the web, to express their individual selves. Of course the adults of the world understanding the pending politics of elitism, pushing the inherited social normative, try our best to censor their individualistic virtues. As far as Integrationalism goes, I think that this type of self-actualization through the vetting of peers is healthy in forcing an identity on the individual that it recognized by the group (which is sometimes different than what the individual initially thinks of themselves).
A healthy argument could be made that we are all just Zombies giving Mark Zuckerberg enough information to enslave us, or that the establish social normative doesn’t break down in the virtual space, because those with information about the etiquette of modernity will conform and outcast the ignorant or unsavory. But I think that if we really want to see some potential of harmony in human interactions, whether physical or virtual, we should make an effort to be more transparent with our individual lives. The emergence of Big Data as a tool that we can use to create knowledge of the vast amount of information that social networks and other virtual domain are generating is not something that should be taken lightly in from an ethical technological innovation standpoint. For the sake of avoiding being a hypocrite I’ve upgraded (yes, I consider it an upgrade) to Facebook’s Timeline. More to come…