Internet Communal Culture

I was just thinking of an odd trend. Never in the history of man has so much been voluntarily made public. It seems that more and more people are publishing their ever thought, dream, or endeavor online, in an easily searchable format. I think that this is unprecedented.

I have always been an egotistical tech savvy type, never hesitating to post my opinions in a viewable form. This has been true since the days of the BBS, so it is not a big surprise that I am almost completely public. The surprising thing is that more and more "normal" people are doing this, barring their very souls to public scrutiny. What motivates people to this? Could it be the same motivation to lure people to obnoxious Geocities accounts in the early to mid 90's? I'm betting yes, but more effectively since the kinder-gentler web has freed them from the sad task of formatting the aesthetics of their personalized phlemogogue *.

Perhaps this is due to my version of ego building, briefly covered locally, and more in depth on my LiveJournal account. Never before has man had such an ability to project himself before such a large amount of people. And never before has man had such an ability to find anyone, with a huge degree of discrimination (thank you Google!). Thanks to modern technology we can shape our external image in godlike ways. Our telos is almost completely in our hands, or imago is almost completely shapable, we can now completely exist within the act of spontaneous self creation**.

This also leads to a very existential state of being, where we take control of our lives, by manipulating the other (ala Sartre). Instead of granting the other the ability to shape us, and thus alienate ourselves, we take charge and try to force the other to see us as we want them to, thus empowering ourselves over them. It is an attempt to remove our own helplessness.

To explain this, right now I have SEVEN public expression areas running actively, and frequently updated:

  1. Non Servium (blog), for deeper issues of possible general import.
  2. My LiveJournal (Cessation from Species) for more personal updates to my friends.
  3. My ignored MySpace (too teenage and clicky)
  4. My Del.icio.us account, for social bookmarking.
  5. My Flickr account for image sharing, and comments.
  6. My SuprGlu account for aggragating all this data.
  7. And to some extent my public Bloglines account, which is now ignored in favor of Vienna.
This list could be much larger with all of the options out there now, and as such this list does not appear that large. But put yourself back less than 5 years, now this list seems overly large. This is also not counting my Google indexed Slashdot entries, and various other forms of expression that become public. There comes a point where we must ask ourselves if any of this is necessary, is anyone doing this for the good of anyone beyond themselves? Is this excess information and expression bettering anyone besides the individual (which is an arguable premise!). The million dollar question is: "Is there more to this than pure egotism?"

According to the new generation of technology mavens, and tech-optimistic tools, this is the so-called (and overly jingoistic) Web 2.0, rife with "folksomony", tags, and collaborative crap. I have yet to see the intrinsic benefits to society for any of this, besides the empowerment of volitional ego building. If I am wrong, and the evangelical Web 2.0 people are right, by all means correct me!

Why do I continue? This is a golden question, in which I will leave in your hands.

At some point this huge blossoming of information is a good thing, in that more experience becomes available, but is that the motivation behind this voyeuristic/egotisic trend?


-* Apparently I am the first to revive this archaic term online. It means a medicine to expel phlegm, as I discovered in an old '40's unabridged
dictionary. Also used it on the defunct NS 'zine ('98-2004).

-** Put immaturely here: Ego expressing itself on ego. An exersize in paradox. - LJ 12-02-04

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