These are the moments of our lives…on the internet

Posted: October 11, 2010 in Enterntainment, News/Current Events
Tags: , , , , , ,

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Hey people,

After much ado about the movie, I finally saw Social Network this past weekend. It was well done and entertaining. It chronicles the birth of Facebook in the dorm room of Harvard sophomore Mark Zuckerberg in 2003. The story is told not in a biopic, but rather from the perspective of how Zuckerberg deals with the inevitable battle over who helped start up the company and who should receive compensation for their contributions. It began the way many infamous events (and urban legends) begin: alcohol and a jaded youngster who just broke up with his girlfriend. Once unleashed on the internet, the idea caught fire and grew to what would become the biggest social and cultural phenomenon of our time. Whether the entire movie is factually accurate has been up for debate. Taking in more than $22 million at the box office (at the time of writing this piece), the entire movie being true may not be especially important to most viewers, but it got me thinking.

What will the world be like when our kids grow up? The way things are going, as aptly illustrated in the movie, every person-to-person interaction will be via a computer connection. People’s ‘status’ updates will become more important and meaningful than calling someone to catch up. They will never again have to truly understand the intricacies of verbal conversation. This is not to say they won’t still have to get jobs, interacting with coworkers, bosses, clients and others, but use it or lose it (as they say). In fact, according to comScore estimates, the largest demographic that gets information from Facebook is the 55+ age group. This interest in social media is likely cultivated by the public being inundated with the allure of posting their lives online. Children growing up in this online reality will only further establish the practice of giving away little pieces of their lives online for general public consumption as a way of life.

This upbringing may not be all bad, though. In the same way computer technology was born and became second nature for the children of Generation Y, Facebook will force kids to learn to be more careful with their identities online and elsewhere in their lives. They will have to safeguard personal information with a tenacity not currently practiced to protect against today’s identity thieves. With each piece of their lives that they archive on their Facebook pages, kids give away a little bit of their privacy. As Facebook becomes a larger part of people’s lives, users will have to be evermore diligent in what kinds of things they share with their “friends” on Facebook. I don’t mean it will lead to a Big Brother, 1984 kind of world, but with more employers looking online for dirt on potential employees, the potential for things posted on Facebook (and any other social media site, for that matter) to harm the future success of young people online grows exponentially with the popularity of these services.

Along with the increased dedication to privacy online social media will force users to give, Facebook also has the potential to propel users to professional and commercial success. One must look no further than the so-called stars of YouTube– whether it is the Chocolate Rain guy, or the Double Rainbow song, tools such as Facebook, can help launch careers for self-promoters and established companies alike. With over 500 million users, the website is a veritable cornucopia of potential marketing success. Indeed, it is the hope of both start-ups and established market players to attract as many eyeballs to their brand as possible. It is in this spirit that I would congratulate Facebook on its recent milestone, but also caution its users to carefully safeguard the information posted on the site. It is the only surefire way to know what kinds of information people can find on you online.

-The Dead Peasant


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