Sunday, January 11, 2015
A few days ago it was my birthday. Normally I don't make a big fuss about it and generally eating out is enough treat at my, almost, fifty years hanging around. I do social media. The fact that you are reading this post proves that! I have a Facebook account, an internet web page etc. but at the same time I am a bit reserved with my personal data, particularly, my date of birth, which exposed a very interesting issue that happens with social media, which I will try to describe in this post. Facebook is an interesting beast with a very fast dynamics. For example, it is almost impossible to find the same post twice (and a humble suggestion for the developers would be to have a "search" option for posts' keywords) and particularly, birthday notifications happen at the speed of bites. This because, as many of you surely already know, one of the features of Facebook is to automatically remind you the birthday of a friend and thus, almost every day these are posted in the news feed. Consequently, the birthday boy or girl gets lots of posts of his/her friends wishing happy birthday, which, kind of loose meaning if the list is vast and thus, it becomes a formality. In any case, this is not new and social media is not particularly responsible of such formality, which I am not going to criticize here. I don't list my birthday in Facebook and as expected I didn't get posts of people wishing me a happy one. However the unexpected point is that I didn't get meaningful greetings either as I used to by any other means, and that is the aspect I am interested on commenting today. You see, lots of the greetings are meaningless whether they come from the social media or not, and now they simply get reinforced and increased by this modern technology. Hence, what social media really does is decreasing the importance of meaningful greetings by boosting the reminders of every potential greeting. In the old time, only the relevant birthdays were remembered and perhaps annotated in a diary in a proactive way, since the date was relevant. Those few greetings had meaning as the consequence of a proactive intention: I love X --> I care about X. Today, we get all the dates in a passive way; I don't need to do anything but log in to know who's birthday is today and worse, I don't care to remember the birthday of X because I am assuming the system will tell me so precisely on the right day. So, I am not surprised not getting greetings from every single friend I have in the social media, but it is really disturbing that people who used to remember proactively those dates don't do it anymore and rely on the reminders, first of all, forgetting the relevance of a date watered down among many other dates and second, rendering the relevance into irrelevance when the date is not remembered proactively. Today, we chose to transfer our brain and thinking from our heads into our pocket, inside the case of a smart phone and choose to forget what the phone can remember on our behalf. The question is what is left behind for us to remember?