drink the sweet feeling of the colour zero

We am the hive mind

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Though the nearness of the words “facepalm” and “Facebook” is entirely coincidental, I have recently begun to mentally replace one with the other at all instances. If I read an article about Facebook, invariably it is some privacy hiccough, or someone who has done something unbelievably odd, antisocial or just plain stupid in full view of the digital public.

On the flip side of that particular coin, it has become a valid communications tool, with half a Billion individuals using it. Nearly half the population of my country uses it. Certainly more than half of the literate public in Canada is using it.

I am thusly terrified when I start to notice trends in people’s behavior that indicate a growing social meme whereby “if it is not on Facebook, it’s not true.” Much as I despair of the idea that Wikipedia is a valid source of primary information, I am consistently reminded of the tragic reality that there exist people who honestly believe that no bit of information about an individual is “true” unless they have posted it to Facebook.

My canonical example of this, (and the one that inspired this post,) is that of my impending nuptials. The hardest part about this change in status is the slow process of informing all of your friends. It is not new information by any means; in fact I am often startled when someone has not already heard. The issue apparently is that I have relied on more traditional mediums for the dissemination of information about my life.

I communicate with my friends primarily through voice communications, or secondarily through instant messaging. I prefer to have real-time conversation with individuals, and I see services such as Facebook as little more than a terrible combination between an egocentric blog and voicemail. (For those curious, getting a Facebook profile was not my idea. For all intents and purposes, I lost a bet.)

That some people would look at me in askance upon being informed of the changes in my life and exclaim, “but that’s not what your Facebook says” causes bitter poison to spread tendrils through my soul. My Facebook page contains little if any information at all. There is no relationship status, age, birthday…I’m not even 100% sure I filled out the box for “gender.”

I purposefully left Facebook as near to a blank slate as was reasonable because I believe that if you care enough about me to truly care what is new in my life, then you care enough to communicate with me in real time. (Phones, Instant messaging or even email all being perfectly acceptable forms of communication to me.) How the fact that a page with almost no information at all translates into “I have trouble crediting what you are telling me face to face” I simply cannot parse.

And thus the meat of my rant: a philosophical question. Are we, as a society, turning too much of our thinking processes over to these sorts of “social networking” sites? Perhaps to “the Internet” in general? The entire issue seems as though it may be related to my similar fears that the general public has lost the ability to differentiate between “rewritten press releases” and “actual news.”

When did we start believing what was presented to us without critical thinking?

When did we stop believing anything else?

And are these not overarching social trends worth being deeply, deeply worried about?

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