One of the latest new terms to hit the Open Dictionary is Facebook narcissism, where you make yourself and your life seem much more interesting and exciting on Facebook than in reality. It’s part of the ongoing process of new technology giving rise to new words and phrases, in order to allow us to talk about them with the same level of depth and colour as we do about anything else.
I find the implications of this one slightly disturbing, though, as it suggests that we are creating virtual versions of ourselves, that are somehow ‘better’ than the originals. It feels like we’re heading into some sci-fi movie where people give up living in real life, in favour of their online world (Matrix 4?). It’s as though ‘second life’ is gradually creeping in and taking over – we’ll all be turning into our own avatars next!
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I’ve always found this fear quite unsubstantiated as we create versions of ourselves all the time. No one is ever the same in public as in private. Why is it that people keep learning so much about each other in intimate relationships. People use different faces depending on the social environment and the people involved. Facebook is simply one more aspect of that.
You’re right of course, Nick, but I suppose it’s the fact that these new personas we create are so much more concrete; it’s not just a case of having your ‘telephone voice’ or your ‘office laugh’, it’s a whole new you, immortalized on-screen.