Or, Invasion of the Brain Snatchers
Recently, I read a post called “Is it time for an anonymity movement to challenge Facebook?” Although the (very great) points of the post ranged far and wide, the part that stuck with me was this section about Facebook and conformity:
But having the ambition to display the whole life of their users is just insane. Take Spotify, for example! Sharing the music you’re listening to seems great, right? Just put yourself in the shoes of a shy 16-year-old guy; what is he going to do to impress others and fit in? He’s going to listen to the same music that everyone else is listening to, so as not to seem “weird” at all via his very public Facebook profile.
Imagine that he may stop listening to what he really likes because he will be ashamed to share his real taste in music, unless he is one of the rare users that figures out how to stop the feed from Spotify to Facebook.
Now take this concept and duplicate it for tastes in TV, movies, places to eat … maybe with just about everything.
Facebook is on track to homogenize society, which conversely, and ironically, may “weaken” the database that Facebook is building and the advertising targeting that they are offering!
Recently, I posted about how Open Graph means the end of social media curation. But, if we can’t (directly) curate our social media profiles anymore, are we going to start curating our lives as a means of curating our profiles? If we can’t (or don’t know how to – please ask if you have questions!) curate our streams, will we curate the actions that feed into them? I worry about the loss of the private sphere and what it means to be (socially) off the grid. I’m preemptively mourning the end of reading, viewing, and listening without social consequences.
I worry that having to content with the direct feed through the open stream means that we’ll, even if only momentarially, pause before hitting play on the song that just popped into our heads, or that we’ll have that split second of doubt before changing the channel to the show that we’ve been waiting for all week.
I guess what I’m really wondering is does the end of social media curation mean the end of guilty pleasures? Will I stop watching Toddlers and Tiaras or reading Flowers in the Attics (yes, I’ve done both) if everyone else will be notified of it the minute that I do it? Will I stop dancing around to the Spice Girls if my friends (and co-workers, relatives, etc.) are all informed that that’s how I’m spending my Friday night?
We call these pleasures guilty, like they’re something to be embarrassed about, like there’s something wrong with them. But middle and low-brow entertainment are ubiquitous. They’re the things that unite us as a culture, that we’re all talking about. Right or wrong, we don’t have a national conversation about BBC docudramas – over coffee, we discuss the Jersey Shore; over dinner, we talk about John and Kate (and their infamous eight).
I really hope that Open Graph doesn’t change our tastes (viva trashy TV!), but I do worry that it will. Not so much for someone like me who’s fully embarrassed her bad taste. (So far in this post I’ve admitted to Toddlers and Tiaras, Flowers in the Attics, and Spice Girls.) But, I worry for me at 13. Who watched Dawson’s Creek just to know what kids were talking about in study hall. Who tried desperately to hide the fact that she had no idea what music the other kids were listening to. I worry that, if I had come of age in the time of Open Graph, I would have had the opportunity to develop my (admittedly terrible) personal taste. That I would have spent high school listening to Dave Matthews, because everyone else was and it was “alternative” enough to have the suburban kid version of street cred. That I would have read the 1997 equivalent of Twilight (any suggestions as to what book should claim that dubious title?) at the expense of everything else.
What might I have missed? If I knew that everyone could see (and judge) my reading list, would I have picked up Harry Potter at age fifteen? Would I have watched all of Firefly in one weekend if I knew that every episode would leave a mark on my timeline?
Questions of the day: If you knew that everything that you read, watched, and listened to would appear on your Facebook timeline, would it make you think twice before reading/watching/listening? Or do you wear your dorkyness on your sleeve? How about when you were a teenager?
MaggieCakes is a blog about social media, marketing, culture, and what’s new on the internet written by me, Maggie O’Toole. Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.