Home > Human Behaviour, Self, Society, Technology > The Social Web is Narcissistic

The Social Web is Narcissistic

…and at its heart is an Egotist – You.

Disclaimer: The thoughts about this article are still extremely hazy and maybe I’ll refine it in some time but I think this deserves some thought. This is an Old Draft but I still decided to publish it.

Ajay, a friend and a mentor @ work and I were having our regular cup of coffee this afternoon when it all started. For long have I been asking him to get onto the Social Web and he has been reluctant about it for no declared reason. The guy has a Twitter Id which he barely uses citing excuses of wanting to avoid an addictive distraction – something I can’t refute; and uses no other networking service. Well today, I got him talking, nudging him to point what he sees wrong with the Web as it has become. To set some context, We’ve both long wondered that there is something seriously wrong with the way the world is headed; I have been optimistic about the Web, thus far.

“Well”, Ajay said, “it promotes unjust Narcissism.” And then i realized the direction his reluctance was coming from… Both Ajay and I are severely Narcissistic guys – We Still believe we are the centers of universe and the Sun revolves around us. Not the world, just a few of us… But it isn’t Narcissism at a personal level, it is narcissism at a mass level that should raise a concerning eyebrow – Because it promotes Amateurism at a mass level. And Narcissistic Noobs is something most of us can’t put up with and shouldn’t, to be true.

The Social Web, is built around the construct of ‘Me’. It is an immediate instance of the act of Consumption of the Self. There is this need for this ‘Me’ to be consumed – in all forms. (More in this direction later). An old observation of mine on similar lines came when I was wondering about the Testimonials on the social sites. No matter who this ‘Me’ is, there are people to promote ‘Me’, to vouch for ‘Me’, who think ‘Me’ is good, great, fantabulous. ‘Me’ is happy, and ‘Me’ genuinely believes he is great and this continues. Eventually this leads to a degeneration of the Web – let alone Information, most content isn’t even Data for me, just Noise.

Despite all of this, I still believe Web 2.0 promises me a great way of information discovery. In potential, I can control exactly what I let seep through to me, what I allow myself to expose myself to. It will all start with amateurism, but I feel Amateurs at some point of time will evolve, those who don’t will perish. Eventually, the fittest will survive. Ajay doesn’t quite agree with me; Natural Selection scares him – Amateurs will promote Amateurs and the circle of the thoughtful will be left tiny and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I’m hoping I get to see him wrong on this.

Do you feel the Web 2.0 Shall evolve to a sea of information or do you think Noise will inundate the information by far?

  1. August 29, 2008 at 2:19 AM

    Narcissism is inherent in the idea as an essential part of web
    2.0 is user generated content. It gives the ultimate democratic right – freedom of speech to every one. Most of the blogs are rants or flights of ego.

    Biggest problem for such social web endeavors is not the technology, not the server, programming skills etc. but subtle design choices and communication models. e.g. I find orkut messages bloated because any one can send a message to all the people in one’s friend list in a few clicks. Compare this with an email service, it is not that easy to spam using the email clients or web interfaces.

  2. August 29, 2008 at 12:47 PM

    I like the style of your blog, to me the layout and design looks good.
    And this recent, more thought-invoked post is much better.

    To answer your question: I think the noise is already too much. Almost every blog I come across is a shameless effort to promote something.
    If we assume that theres a broad spectrum of intelligences on the web these days, as there should be, given that computers and access to the internet is almost ubiquitous, the majority of people flapping their gabs must have average intelligence at best.
    Couple this with the fact that there are endless amounts of youngsters who have not yet come of age, and thus have much less real world knowledge, posting content all over the place, I believe that this means most of the content on the web is mindless drivel, or will be.
    I think it will remain like this for a good while, until some new technology comes along to replace the internet – in terms of what people spend their time doing – if one does.
    It will not evolve in my opinion, it will devolve, to the point where nobody can be bothered producing anything good because it won’t be worth it.

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