I can haz a PRIVATE button for my channels please
When you’ll be 87, sitting on the porch reflecting on your life through the thousands of daily nuances you shared today something will be missing. You might recognise the person but it will feel a bit strange, a partial or even a contrived version of the person you believed you are. Unless you’re one of these chronic sourpusses you’ll most probably sense a bias towards a happier version of yourself (that’s actually not a bad thing?)
Ask yourself – how many tweets / updates do you self-censor every day (for whatever reason)? Does it happen to you that you experience something, see something you’d love to instagram but realise it’s probably not a good idea to share with your followers?
Wouldn’t you want to still be able to capture and document whatever that is but just not to share it? Currently this is impossible on most platforms (enlighten me if I’m wrong)
I’ve been writing in the past about the way that social publishing tools are altering not just our behaviour but also our (social) cognition. We’re increasingly experiencing moments of our lives through the mediation of public/social expressions. Our experiences and inner thoughts are being processed, in real time, through the ways we will, or may tell the world about it.
Goffmann famously argued that all of life is performance: we act out a role in every interaction, adapting it based on the nature of the relationship or context at hand. Now, according to common belief “Twitter has extended that metaphor to include aspects of our experience that used to be considered off-set: eating pizza in bed, reading a book in the tub, thinking a thought anywhere, flossing. Effectively, it makes the greasepaint permanent, blurring the lines not only between public and private but also between the authentic and contrived self” (NYTimes)
It’s the latter observation that I’m personally interested in these days. Apart from very few individuals who exhibit zero mediation between a thought and a tweet for the vast majority social media is a fascinating self-management or identity-management tool. Every tweet, every status update, every photo and every link we share tells something about us and contribute to the overall image we want to project to the world. We are what we share etc. We shouldn’t confuse between the mundane and the private/personal. The fact that some of us will tweet about lunch in bed doesn’t make a big shift in our perceptions between the private and the public. I believe we still fiercely protect our private/personal selves.
If we agree that publishing tools alter our cognition, then there is a growing tension between the way we process experiences and thoughts and what we think is suitable for sharing based on the self-image we want to foster and protect. We know very well what is tweetable and what is untweetable but we don’t have two cognitions, we cannot have two different ways to process the information and experiences we come across and this is resulting, depends on who you are, in some level of self-censoring.
Put differently, life-casting is stuck in a weird state whereby the personal diary is actually a public diary and we are prohibited from documenting some significant experience purely because we are aware of the audiences. Now when you’re 87 and reflecting on your life, wouldn’t you want access to the private and the personal as well?
The solution? A simple PRIVATE/PUBLIC to all of our channels. Rather than the existing setting which allow your whole channel to be PRIVATE/PUBLIC we simply need to have the option at the moment of sharing. Do I want this post/tweet/photo to become public or to be strictly private? This will allow us to freely observe, process, reflect and document but will still give us, at the point of sharing the option to decide whether this is going public or private.
And if not for any other reasons, the (hopefully) rare occasion we will confuse PUBLIC/PRIVATE will probably make a bloody good story as well…
Does that make any sense or am I talking complete nonsense??