Law in the Internet Society

Push lever. Free Existential Bananas

-- By CasidheMcClone - 13 Dec 2016

You should get rid of your Facebook account.

Not because they’re harvesting your information, although they are. Not because it creates risk for your identity and security, although it does. Not because there’s a plague of confirmation bias in the posts you’re shown. There is, of course. But disregard that. It’s uncomfortable to think about.

You should log off anyway.

Think about the amount of time you spend on it. I won’t throw stats at you. Just be honest with yourself- how many times a day do you look at that blue logo? How often do you open the page? Maybe you don’t open it at all. Maybe its a single tab, perpetually running on Google Chrome, the one tab you never close.

And for all the time you look at the site, how often do you actually feel satisfied?

Try and remember the last time you closed Facebook and thought to yourself, “I’m really glad I logged on.” Maybe something comes to mind. If it does, take that instance, and examine it. What made you happy? Was it a compliment? An influx of likes? Did you feel wanted? Validated?

Did it last?

Maybe you’re hesitant. Maybe you feel like you get some utility from the website. That’s fair… but you should take a long hard look at that utility before you decide you need it. What benefits do you get? Do you just like to know what your friends are up to?

How much time do you spend looking at your friends’ profiles compared to your own? Sure, Facebook lets users connect to each other… but what you really want to do is connect to yourself. You worry about what your profile says about you, and what others are going to read into. They don’t really scrutinize your profile. They are far too busy worrying about their own. But regardless, you spend hours refining your Facebook self. You pick photos that make him look more muscular, or more outdoorsy. You follow authors or musicians that make her seem trendy and intelligent. Maybe you actually are those things. Maybe you did enjoy Interstellar, and you are interested in following the Nolan brothers’ page. But it doesn’t matter how closely your Facebook self mirrors your own preferences- that person is still not you. You are dynamic, and she is static. You can enter an empty room, sit down, and exist. He is nothing without someone to look at him.

Maybe you can’t part with an online persona you view as successful. The multi-person chats you contribute to, the secret clubs you’re a member of, and the inside jokes that can make every member laugh. Surely those are valuable. Think of all the clever things you’ve said there! You’ve commanded the chat room, even if only for a brief moment. People liked what you had to say. You can’t let those social victories disappear… You felt so smart. You are smart. But any wisdom you’ve imparted through Facebook didn’t come from the interface. Anything clever you’ve said online can be said offline. The character you’ve created isn’t required.

You will be giving something up. We are law students, after all. We want to be lawyers- we want to deal with things made out of people. The job is inherently social, which means we need to be networkers. You want to build connections, and you want to know who to tap at any given time. How could you possibly underestimate the value of a network that keeps track of them for you? It tells you what each of your friends are up to, tells you who they know, and gives you an easy means of getting in touch with them.

But there may be something to be said for the effort “old school” communication requires. If you know that someone had to track down your number or your email address in order to contact you, would you be more likely to take their requests seriously? Or conversely, is it possible that your own communications will be taken more seriously if the people you contact can’t see your message coming just be being aware of your life? The concept is economic: the less available information about you becomes, the more likely people are to pay attention to the information they do receive.

Try and remember the last time you took a picture, admired it, and didn’t consider posting it. The last time you took a picture just so you could capture a moment. So that a piece of time you will never get back could belong to you forever. You could revisit it whenever you wanted. It was yours. Maybe you shared it with people who you thought would be interested by it; maybe you didn’t. You didn’t have to. If someone wanted to see it, they asked you. You decided if you wanted to let them into your memory.

Try and remember the last time you did something big without updating your status. The last time you finished finals season without advertising it. The last time you went out of town for the weekend without all of your friends knowing where, and what time you were getting back. The last time somebody asked you “What have you been up to?” without already knowing the answer.

To be clear, I’m not arguing for isolation. The view from Walden Pond may be beautiful, but the local economy is kinder to philosophers than it is to lawyers. I’m just saying we should try to exercise a little more control over how visible we are. We’re all monkeys performing for other monkeys. We can’t stop being primates, and we can’t stop performing. But we can try a little harder to pick our own audience. .

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r3 - 20 Feb 2017 - 03:04:27 - CasidheMcClone
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