I went to the most excellent Social Media Camp London yesterday, many thanks again to Vero for organising such a great event. It was my first barcamp event and I sat in talks on a wide variety of subjects. From how hedgehogs inspire social media by Carl Jeffrey to how to help journalists become programmers, or vice versa, led by Mark Ng. Despite the seeming randomness of the topics, there were a couple of themes that kept creeping into almost every discussion, One was that perhaps Gen Y aren’t quite as digitally adept as previously suspected, but that’s a topic for another time, the one that had me thinking all the way home was about the erosion of privacy, and how can we now manage our various social faces.
The world still seems to be searching for a standard definition of social media, at PN we tend to say that it is an amplification of already existing social dynamics. People have always shared their experiences with each other, they’ve always whinged about bad service and complimented the good, it’s just now easier to whinge to more people.
But there are other aspects of being social creatures that I hadn’t really considered before, which is the management of our various social faces, or facets if you will. It’s a very rare person that presents exactly the same persona to everyone they know, there is usually some element that we try to keep concealed or emphasise, which element that is will vary between our social groups. It can range from concealing from your parents just how much of a party animal you were at uni, to not letting your work colleagues know that you spend weekends dressed as an elf, running through the forest yelling “lightening bolt“. Up until now its been fairly easy. Your fellow students are usually equally keen to tales of high jinx away from their parents too, and if a LARPer yells in the forest and there are no none-LARPers around, did it really happen?
But it’s no longer that simple. Drunken photos and videos will appear online as will the odd inappropriate comment on your facebook wall. We’re becoming increasingly reliant on other people to help maintain our various social facets while at the same time those other people are becoming keener on sharing every aspect of their life as publicly as possible.
I’m interested in the coping strategies that we will develop. Will it become acceptable for everyone one to know everything about everyone else, or will there be a backlash and people will retreat from social media, severely limiting who they interact with online and policing any material that appears. Or will we continue as is, conveniently forgetting what we do might end up biting us in the ass at some point in the future?