Sunday, January 1, 2012

Facebook, The Matrix and Skynet

FaceBook needs no introduction. The Matrix is a 1999 sci-fi, futuristic movie while Skynet is the AI in the movie Terminator which went against its human creators and tried to destroy them. So what do these 3 have in common? 

We live in an increasingly connected world. Social networking, right up from those Friendster days to the current FB wildfire has connected us 24/7. Many of us live our lives on FB. We create our FB moments. We even let everyone on our list know where we've checked in, who we are with.

We knowingly and unknowingly try to keep up. With more laid bare, the pressure builds too. Keeping up with the Joneses used to be limited by a boundary that can be seen. FB (and other social networking sites) erase those boundaries. And so, you find people actually trying to create those FB moments. A friend told me a joke about how some people spend more time trying to pose for a photo to be put up on FB than actually try to enjoy the place or the people. 

Another person I know noted how foul and harsh languages are finding their way to the public domain, published for all to see. Quarrels between a teen and his parents and foul words used to vent their anger on their teachers have all been put up for all to see. Whatever happened to family and self honor? I guess these days, most think it's pretty cool to be seen as rebellious. 

We seem so connected yet seem so unable often, to hold 'eyeball' conversations. Some of us have over a 1000 friends on our list. I remember going through the FB of a young man who committed suicide not too long ago. In the days and hours before his final act, he put up his intent on FB. So many friends, yet none seemed to take time to seek him out. In fact, more seemed to be spurring him on. I guess people don't take people seriously on FB. 

The connectivity has also served to numb us further from thinking more; from realizing how temporal and empty life can be.... that there is a void in our heart. We move from one comment to another, one event to the next. We look at photos of travels made, food eaten, events carried out.... and we long for them. Slowly we are sucked into trying to keep up or ceate our own reality distortion field. And some day, perhaps when we find it too hard to cope, we will willingly give up our liberty and ability to think and choose to substitute it with our wishful reality...... and live in the matrix. Lost souls we may be but many of us will opt for that because it'll feel like a more pleasant existence, free of cares and worries.

So will we be like the Israelites who asked God to give them a king. They insisted even though God warned them the King would take a lot from them. That was how Saul came into the picture. Would we, give up the liberty of mind in exchange for a blissful existence like the one in The Matrix? And guess who will be the Skynet? You got it..... harmless social networking sites could well be on their way to being the next superpower. They will own us..... with everything gone digital, it's not hard to see that our lives have been digitalized. And digital lives can be manipulated.... can take a cue from the movie The Net (Sandra Bullock). 

iCloud, Dropbox, Boxee and so on.... each one entices us to trust them to keep our documents, images, files, everything that can be digitalized. They remove the need for us to be responsible for our own stuff. And we gladly surrender our privacy for that convenience, to have things done for us, for someone to organize our lives.... We surrender a bit of ourselves in eCh instance in exchange for the things we want..... and come to think of it, that's life. We spend a life bartering this for that.....

Here's to 2012! 

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