Early in 2010, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage at the annual f8 conference in San Francisco to announce some major changes to the popular social network. Amongst them, Zuckerberg detailed the “social graph”, a concept created by the young billionaire and his team from Palo Alto where they aim to connect you and your friends across the web – and not only in the caged ecosystem of the Facebook site.
Essentially, what Facebook aims to do is stake its presence across the web, and the first signs of this came shortly after the big announcement at f8 2010 when the emergence of the “like” web gadget appeared on blogs and other social sites. Upon clicking “like” next to a blog post, for instance, a short post is sent to your Facebook Wall and you have instantly shared with your friends the blog post that you liked. It’s the Palo Alto giant’s idea of easing the access of information and creating a neater way of sharing interesting content with friends. (Of course, this has been dramatically abused – if one can call it that – as ad-covered “like” sites have emerged). However, the concept is neat, and Facebook can take a bow for their attempts at connecting you to the world, and the world to you.
But the “sharing” culture that defines this new generation of the web (Web 2.0 or the “social web”, as it’s known) has a sinister way of embedding itself in the subconscious. It starts to grow on social media users like ivy down the side of a building; it becomes a reflex of sorts and suddenly you’re wanting to share every tiny find, wanting others to experience the same thing you’ve just discovered.
It’s a dangerous advent, a parasite of this wonderful new age. Now, I hate ridiculing the social media scene – in fact, I usually turn my head the other way when I hear uninformed critics lambaste the age of the web – but this “share complex” that comes with the democratisation and closer nature of the new web is an issue that can potentially harm one.
We need to draw the line clearly as early as possible in our exploration of the possibilities that open with the progressing web, before the share complex can take a greater psychological control of our minds. The subconscious nature of the share complex can drive us to divulge information that shouldn’t be divulged; thus, greater caution should be taken in these endeavours online. A discerning nature must be adopted so that we may enjoy the new web in a way that a dark pest like this share complex may not deter us.
But on the whole, I’m looking forward to what social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and the others out there, have in store for us. It’s certainly exciting times to be living in.