Sunday, 30 March 2008

Backlash 2.0

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to....aggregate?

Having just read the Facebook Suicide blog entry by SHL I began to consider my own web mortality. A couple of years ago my journey into the tangled web 2.0 began when I joined Friendster. Invited by my single friends who used this tool to pick up English speaking girls in Shanghai I realised that this was more than just an online singles bar. of course being married I could not partake anyway.

So Friendster led to Linked in, my attempt to waste my time in a manner that I could almost justify as business usage. I discovered MSN Spaces and MySpace where I promptly put up pages to express my feelings or show photos from my camera phone. Shortly after that I joined Facebook and reconnected with those whom I lost touch with decades ago. Then it became an obsession. I started tweeting, blogging, social bookmarking and RSSing. My time is becoming more scarce and now I have just discovered FriendFeed which aggregates and displays the extent of my obsession. I find that I do not hesitate in signing up to any new social network that comes about to the point where I am now signed up to some Chinese sites that I cannot even read.

But unlike the Facebook suicidee, who deleted his accounts in an attempt to regain his real life social networks, I realise that I have no such network to return to. Prior to this 2.0 addiction I used to vicariously live through the exploits of my single and promiscuous friends. Hearing about their parties and conquests allowed me to maintain my fulfilling "1st Life" as a father and husband without having to cheat or lie. I simply listened to the stories of the live of others to get my fill of adventure (of course I never got into the reality TV thing and have no real interest in Brad, Angie, Victoria or David). I didn't have the bandwidth to have a "2nd Life" and now what I have found was that my 2.0 life remained quite fractured amongst over a dozen social networking sites. In essence visiting and linking to me on any one of the dozens sites that I frequent would provide you with only a facet of my personality.

Throughout these proxy social interactions I have attempted to be true to myself and my mediocrity however, a tweet here, an article here, parts of my true identity were scattered amongst the various shards of the blogophere. Now with FriendFeed, Pulse on Plaxo and even through Facebook apps that aggregate feeds from my other existences, I am beginning to see the personality I am projecting with greater clarity, and to be honest, what I am seeing is somewhat frightening. I am now realising that my Freudian Ego and my Cyber Id do not necessarily correlate.

Who is this person that is looking back at me through my FireFox browser. I do not recognise him? This person on the other side of the mirror not only has a political opinion (where I in real life have none), is somewhat communist (something I would never admit in good company), has very cynical view of the world and holds the unpopular position on most issues. This is not the person I knew myself to be. In real life I see myself as a compassionate, friendly and mostly diplomatic being but this other me... he is downright offensive at times. He sees no compassion in the plight of the Tibetans, he doesn't give a hoot about the environment and feels no empathy towards those who in real life might cause me to feel hollow and sad inside.

Is this other personality the real me? or is the person I thought I was the real me? I shudder to think of the day when, through perhaps during a non-voluntary Earth hour, this online Mr. Hyde, without the internet to channel his persona overcomes the politically correct and sensitive Dr. Jekyll , becoming a real life monster.

Who is this facade that has become the one true me.
Please save me from myself Oh Timothy Berners-Lee!

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