The Philosophy of Social Media

Let’s Talk Metaphysics.

For the first time in human history, people are existent in multiple locations. It’s very cool. I heard a statistic that says more content goes online every three days than humanity produced between the beginning of recorded history and the year 2000. I watched a Google webinar last month that said Youtube serves more videos than Coke-a-cola serves beverages in a given day. People are posting online, and they are posting a lot. That is awesome, but I wonder how much thought people give to what they post online. Because content online lives forever.

When we evaluate history, we look through fossil records, written accounts, legends, and contextual clues. There is some ambiguity, but we evaluate the evidence we have and make an educated guess. Those days are over. Today everything is documented. Everything you buy from Amazon, your status, those tweets, Facebook photos, your likes, hobbies, interests, who you dated and for how long, where you worked and for whom, and who you were friends with at what point in your life. Think about that for a second. It’s almost like you exist in two places; you’re metaphysical. And you, dear reader, are among the first people ever in history to have this ability. You are the beta test; the trial version. Think about that while you watch Gary Vaynerchuck in this video.

Let’s Talk Existentialism.

Albert Camus is famed for The Myth of Sisyphus and his three responses to the question of how to deal with the absurd. I think it applies nicely to the question of how to deal with this trend of eternal existence online. I’ll give you the abridged version as Camus saw it.

  1. Avoid it
  2. Ignore it
  3. Embrace it

I think of an online reputation as a fact. Whether you love it, hate it, or are indifferent, you exist online. You can choose your response: abstain completely, exist passively, or go all in. That choice is yours, but know this: If you don't manage your digital presence, there is a good chance someone else will do it for you.

In the 8 short years since Facebook was created, it has become creepy not to have one. The stigma is if you don't have a Facebook , you have a dark past, an assumed identity, or a lot to hide. I've heard HR specialists say they don't consider candidates without social media. That’s not fair. We should not feel pressured to tell everyone what is going on in our lives to avoid appearing creepy.

Let's Talk Truth

At a minimum, I've come to realize that you should at least be cognizant of your image and affiliations online, because who you are online may not be the real you, but it's the you that everyone is going to remember forever. Barring some cataclysmic change, you're going to be around online for a long time, and you are the first one in your family with an image online. We should all think about the image we portray online. 

Something to think about…