Feed on
Posts

Tag Archive 'social networks'

Resisting Facebook

One of the reasons for  the success of Facebook is that friends are supposed to be such. Usually, in social networks and dating sites we meet people who are alien to our real-life narratives. Even though these “just online” contacts can bring interesting connections, in most cases such “friends” come and go and the connection doesn’t go much in depth. Missing a real-life narrative beyond the Net, the connection between people doesn’t sink as deep as in an authentic and almost “organic” place.

So Facebook came to the rescue as a way to connect with people we know and those we knew in the past but with whom we lost touch. Even though the invitation game of picking friends and friends of friends expands and I ended up with some contacts I barely know, with maybe half of them I shared important parts of my life, parts of our histories which shaped our lives.

But I am resistant to participating in Facebook games with them, for the very reason that some of them are real friends and we had such important connections. So until now I didn’t look for friends to add on Facebook and I seldom open the site, not much more than accepting the requests I had until now.

Since most of the people who request for friendship know I’m a long-time Internet user and former Internet book publisher, sometimes I feel like telling them that I rarely go to Facebook and I’m not deliberately ignoring them. Actually, the situation poses an inner strife, a sort of double bind: since people are there on the site, it doesn’t look nice ignoring them, but at the same time I don’t want to be engaged further in one more online toy.

Of course, we can say that for every level of communication there are different areas and that we can choose the medium according to the depth and intimacy we need. With intimate people I can choose other ways too for communicating. The medium can vary greatly from telephone calls to personal meetings and body/mind contacts at any level from hand-shaking to making love.

But Facebook, like many other Web applications, tends to expand its scope and include more aspects of our lives, and can also easily become addictive. It starts with a cool way to connect, then it adds feature after feature, then it becomes essential to not get isolated from the group of friends and, finally becomes one more window that feeds on our time and scant attention. In being active much on Facebook I sense the risk of digitalizing even those real and important relationships and consequently of trivializing our rich histories. I also sense the risk of creating a cyber-elite and excluding friends who aren’t on the Internet or who access the Net quite rarely, friends who don’t have the time or the desire to get wired or locked in social networks.

Even though I have, at the moment of writing, 45 friends on Facebook, a small number compared to most users (around 150 friends on average), anytime I connect to the site I can still get a certain number of updates about “What they are doing now.” As I browse through those short sentences, my online experience, like that of many other people, is made up of other open Web pages and applications competing for my attention. While one friend is planning a trip, another is going to sleep, one more is sad (even though “negative” feelings aren’t expressed that much, generally speaking) and yet another is enjoying music. It seems to me to be more like TV, where tragic news are immediately followed by gossip and vice versa, where everything melts in an anesthetized flow of news with no connection with our inner states.

I don’t want to become numb in the felt connection with my friends as I might be with a TV or movie character. Every input we get from a person who is a valuable connection for us takes time and attention to assimilate and interact with, especially if it’s something which isn’t trivial. But time and attention are scarce resources when we are on the Net and depth is mostly avoided. Perhaps this is the reason why we read much less about difficult and challenging inner states on Facebook and in general on other social networks. The “hugs and love sending” applications look a bit, well…unsatisfactory.

I sense as well the risk of considering myself exempt by keeping more direct contacts with people, substituting them with writing a few updates about myself on Facebook. Even in this case, we could say that one medium doesn’t have to substitute another, but our time and attention resourses are limited and don’t grow at the pace of computer speed.

One other risk I sense is to homogenize the rich variety of ways with which I interact with individual persons. With every friend whom I interact with in an open way, a unique relationship is being created, almost an entity in itself, shaped in time from the alchemy of two souls meeting.

On a psychological level we can say those are object relationships, which drive us in the construction of our personalities. People who follow a spiritual path make themselves aware of the role of those relationships in their lives and eventually they can be transformed, making either the relationship evolving in a more authentic way, free from past conditionings, or eventually end it.

Homogenizing our relationships and canalizing them through Web applications and options weakens the construction of our personality through object relationships and doesn’t help us in becoming aware of them either.

One other resistance I have in meeting people on Facebook whom I knew a long time ago is about the recognition that what shaped our relationship is not there any more, since we’ve probably both evolved our personalities in different directions. And it isn’t easy to find a new point of contact through Facebook which fits our current inner states. At the same time, we can’t just re-enact the past: once our psyche has evolved, going back to the same shape becomes impossible, like growing baby teeth back again.

In the meanwhile, I rediscovered plain old email communication, which was the only way to communicate when I started working online 15 years ago. From time to time I email updates about my life to a group of friends who are more present in my life. Email is simple and more environment-friendly, uses little bandwidth, and is accessible from any computer, even very old ones, by very slow Internet connections and by most mobile phones too. Facebook pages usually take a long time to show if the Internet connection is not fast. Email is more direct and personal, giving almost the feeling of letters.

The lack of gimmickry in email writing gives space to more direct connections between words and internal states: we need to fill words from the inside, rather than choosing applications or giving a quick update about “What I am doing now.”

However, I sense that a part of my resistance toward participating in Facebook is also to be found inside some of my conditionings and beliefs which don’t match with reality. I want to explore them for the sake of knowing those parts of myself, so I’ll probably start to participate more in the games to see where it takes me.

See also:
Facebook and the sorcerer’s apprentice of the Net

I click, therefore I am: Toward outsourcing our identity

Unlinking ourselves through technology

Read Full Post »

Internet and the weakening of central (inner) organizations

the eye[en]

In the Hindu and tantric Buddhist esoteric traditions, human beings are seen as composed of centers of energy called chakras. Of those, the sixth chakra, called Ajna chakra, is located between the eyes and is often associated with the pineal gland and the “third eye.”

The sixth chakra resonates with an intuitive kind of intelligence, with clear thinking and clear vision. The sixth chakra way of knowing allows one to see the forming of clear patterns in a huge amount of information. This chakra synthesizes many different aspects of intelligence and gives the skill to pick out information about anything by non-logical means.

The sixth chakra world points to a fascinating place where pure knowledge is omnipresent. Descartes would probably have loved to imagine such a place. Anybody heavily involved with information technology as well would enjoy the sixth chakra capacity to see patterns in the information overload and to live in a clear, brilliant place where intuition rules.

The sixth chakra is even more than intelligence as we know it. It is pure knowing, where even thinking is not needed any more. It is also a place where single individualities melt, where there’s nobody who knows and just knowing remains, a place where there’s no separation between inner and outer, between me and you… no more duality. There is a transpersonal flavour about the sixth body.

The sixth chakra is supposed to take charge of the person when the ego, through a spiritual path, doesn’t have the primary role any more. The sixth chakra starts to coordinate the body and the mind from a higher awareness than the ego and one of its names is “the command chakra.” The ego keeps the personality together through a thick net of thoughts, feelings and conditionings that are mostly acquired, while the Ajna chakra gives direct vision, knowledge and action, non-mediated by any past conditionings.

[/en][it]

Nelle tradizioni esoteriche Indù e nel Buddismo tantrico, gli essere umani sono composti da centri energetici chiamati chakra. Di questi, il sesto chakra, chiamato  Ajna chakra, è localizzato in mezzo agli occhi ed è spesso associato con la ghiandola pineale e il “terzo occhio”.

Il sesto chakra risuona con un tipo di intelligenza intutitivo, con un pensiero e una visione nitida. La modalità di conoscere del sesto chakra consente ad una persona di vedere con chiarezza delle strutture, dei pattern, all’interno di un’enorme quantità di informazioni. Questo chakra sintetizza molti diversi aspetti dell’intelligenza e conferisce la capacità di estrapolare informazioni su qualsiasi tema tramite procedimenti non-logici.

Il mondo del sesto chakra mostra un luogo affascinante dove la conoscenza pura è onnipresente. Probabilmente Cartesio avrebbe amato immaginare un tale luogo. Anche chiunque è fortemente coinvolto nell’elaborazione dell’informazione si feliciterebbe della capacità del sesto chakra di vedere delle hiare strutture nel sovraccarico informativo e di risiedere in un luogo trasparente e brillante dove l’intuizione la fa da padrona.

Il sesto chakra va oltre alla definizione di intelligenza per come la conosciamo. E’ conoscenza allo stato puro, dove anche il pensiero stesso non è più necessario. E’ anche un luogo dove le singole individualità si fondono, dove non vi è più nessuno che conosce e dove rimane solo la conoscenza, un luogo ove non vi è separazione tra interiore ed esteriore, tra me e te, nessuna dualità. Il sesto corpo ha un sapore transpersonale.

Si ritiene che il sesto chakra si prenda cura della persona quando l’ego, tramite un percorso spirituale, non ha più un ruolo primario. Il sesto chakra inizia a coordinare il corpo e la mente da una conspevolezza più elevata dell’ego, tanto che uno dei suoi nomi è “il chakra del comando”. L’ego mantiene la personalità unita attraverso una fitta rete di pensieri, emozioni e condizionamenti, perlopiù acquisiti, mente l’Ajna chakra produce una visione, una conoscenza e un’azione diretta, non mediata da alcun condizionamento del passato.

[/it]

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Questions about the media

escher-another-world[en]

Marshall McLuhan summarized his view of the media in a model called the tetrad of media effects. The tetrad asks the following four questions about any medium to evaluate its qualities.

1) What does the medium increase? For example, TV amplifies the view of the whole world from our homes.

2) What does the medium make obsolete? TV makes family communication obsolete.

3) What does the medium retrieve that had been obsolete earlier? TV provokes a re-tribalization and homogenization of cultures.

4) What does the medium turn into when pushed to extremes? TV can turn in a global Big Brother show where everybody is on the airwaves. TV as well can become a tool of social manipulation.

The number and role of the media in our lives having expanded exponentially since McLuhan’s times, both in terms of the time we dedicate to them and the scope of their applications in our lives, we need to probe the media with a broader range of questions.

I won’t consider the computer and Internet as individual media since they are sums of several media, both traditional and new. Using a computer to write, shop, program software, look at porn or read news are different modalities which involve different needs, though they share the same tool.

[/en][it]

Marshall McLuhan sintetizzò le sue idee sui media in un modello chiamato la tetrade degli effetti dei media. La tetrade usa le seguenti quattro domande per valutare un medium:

1) Cosa permette di espandere il medium? Per esempio, la TV amplifica l’immagine che abbiamo del mondo dalle nostre case.

2) Cosa rende obsoleto? La TV rende obsoleta la comunicazione all’interno della famiglia.

3) Cosa recupera che era divenuto obsoleto in precedenza? La TV provoca una ri-tribalizzazione e un’omogeneizzazione delle culture.

4) Cosa succede quando i limiti del medium vengono spinti agli estremi? La TV può trasformarsi in un unico Grande Fratello in cui la vita di ognuno è in diretta. La TV può anche diventare uno strumento di manipolazione sociale.

Poiché oggigiorno il numero e la funzione dei media si sono espansi in misura esponenziale rispetto ai tempi di McLuhan – in termini sia di tempo che dedichiamo a essi sia di loro ricadute nella nostra vita – abbiamo bisogno di vagliarli tramite più domande.

Non considererò i computer e Internet come media singoli, in quanto sono la somma di diversi media, sia tradizionali che nuovi. Usare un computer per scrivere, fare acquisti, programmare, guardare pornografia o leggere notizie sono modalità diverse che rispondono a bisogni diversi, benché usino lo stesso strumento.

[/it]

(more…)

Read Full Post »

The myth of freedom through technology

Dalì Apparition of the Town of Delft[en]

The New York Times article “In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop provoked a certain sensation on the Web.

Advertisements of cars still show them in the deserts or on isolated mountain roads. The reality: lines of heavy traffic, traffic lights, stress, costs, social isolation, poor quality of life. Even after many years during which cars went from being portrayed as symbols of freedom to the sardine cans that are imprisoning us, the image of freedom associated with them refuses to die.

But since a few years a new image of freedom in the collective mental imagery has been promised by advanced technologies, which permit us to be free from fixed timetables and workplaces. Wi-fi, Web on mobile phones, and always-on Internet connections promise to let us work when and where we want to, free from the obligations of time or place, with our laptop on the top of a mountain having an uninterrupted view in front of us.

[/en][it]

L’articolo del New York Times In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop, che racconta la morte di un blogger per stress e la pressione a cui sono sottoposti i blogger, ha provocato un certo scalpore sul web.

Le pubblicità delle automobili le ritraggono tutt’ora mentre vengono guidate in deserti o in strade isolate di montagna. La realtà: code, semafori, stress, costi, isolamento sociale, bassa qualità della vita. Dopo tanti anni in cui le automobili sono passate da simboli di libertà a scatole di sardine che ci imprigionano, l’immagine della libertà associata alle automobili non muore.

Ma da alcuni anni, nell’immaginario collettivo, la nuova immagine di libertà è stata conquistata dalle tecnologie avanzate, che ci promettono di liberarci dall’orario e dal luogo di lavoro fissi. Wi-Fi, web sui cellulari, connessioni alla rete sempre attive ci promettono di poter lavorare quando e dove ci pare, liberi dalle costrizioni del tempo e dello spazio, con il nostro portatile in cima alla montagna avendo di fronte un panorama incontaminato.

[/it] (more…)

Read Full Post »

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0
This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0.