No-one doubts, after Egypt, that you can organise a revolution on Facebook. The question for those of us not presently caught up in this kind of political activism is: can you truly socialise there?
Aaron Sorkin, creator of the West Wing and scriptwriter of The Social Network, was asked in a recent interview what he thought of the way Facebook is changing the nature of our relationships.
I’ve copied the full answer below, but let me highlight the thought-provoking analogy he makes, which is reason for a post in itself:
Socialising on the internet is to socialising what reality TV is to reality.
Here’s the context:
Q: How to you feel about the way Facebook is changing how people relate?
A: I have a 10-year-old daughter who has never really known a world without Facebook, but we’re going to have to wait a generation or two to find out the results of this experiment. I’m very pessimistic. There’s an insincerity to it. Socialising on the internet is to socialising what reality TV is to reality. We’re kind of acting for an audience: we’re creating a pretend version of ourselves. We’re counting the number of friends that we have instead of cultivating the depth of a relationship. I don’t find it appealing. [Playlist, 12-18 Feb, p12]
But aren’t we always acting for an audience? (If you want some thoughts on this go and read Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.) And what if the distinctions between reality TV and ‘non-reality’ TV (whatever that was/is) and non-TV reality were lost a long time ago?