Okay, all right! This rant is a couple of years too late to even pretend to be a surprised reaction to Facebook, Twitter, etc., but though I get these tools, I don’t quite get why people would want to Share their every activity. Or Tweet them to the whole wide world, for that matter. Like, “I went to the market today”, or “I ate a 24″ pizza ”; for eloquence, you can’t beat a simple “WTF” [pardon the language (if you understand what the acronym stands for)]. Gone was the time when children used to be worried sick about being caught using swear-words or invectives. These words have now entered the popular teen- and pre-teen-culture, and seem to have become accepted as well, their meaning be damned.
For some time, I got caught up in this let-the-world-know-what-I’m-upto craze, and then the whole thing started sounding more and more crazy to me. Why would I want everyone to know what I was up to, every hour of my day? Why would any one, for that matter? Is this some (partly) grown-up version of “I’m better” or “I have a better toy” game that kids play regularly? “Is your social network better than mine?” What is it about humans that makes them want to, at the risk of losing whatever little privacy they have in these days of the omnipresent Google street-mapping cameras, reach out to everyone in their circle, however faintly they’re connected?
I don’t have any answer that fits all these questions, but I do have some guesses:
- Emotional deprivation: it’s a reflection of people’s innate need to be accepted as part of some group, some circle. A need to be accepted. Period.
- Utility: services like Google Places, Foursquare and Yelp are conceivably helpful to people in discovering new restaurants, places of retreat, places to party, etc.
- Ego: some people simply want to brag about being rich enough to be in a certain location; their geekiness; themselves.
Obviously, these questions and answers / guesses merely scratch the surface of a deep, but clearly real, need for people to share their thoughts, actions, whereabouts with others, sometimes even inadvertently. The big question, Why, is something that professional sociologists are better equipped to answer than I.