Some thoughts in my head the past few days.
One is on how we define ourselves. I recently joined MyCupid, which has thus far been fairly useless, but it did remind me of how we express our characters in our society and another way that I never felt that I fit in. Those chat rooms when I was younger, Facebook in its early days, defines people in two simple yet dehumanizing ways. Your interests, and your consumption habits.
When I was young, I always struggled to define myself through my ever-changing, often ambiguous interests. Only recently have I realized that this is not how I want to express myself. The same old categories – Music, Movies, TV, mean little to me, they are shifting, temporally specific, lacking context. They are so segmented, movies fit into a narrow screen, are of a certain length, and music has been forced to be the same. The written word, my preferred form of expression, I believe allows for more vibrant communication, and is less constraining.
We should be, instead, defined by how we treat other people, by how we treat the planet, not by our desires and consumption, but by our actions. But how do you describe actions on an online profile? You can’t, and there is the dehumanization process. We’re being synthesized into something less than who we are, when our true characters can only be expressed through action.
People always ask why I quit Facebook – and then claim that without Facebook, they’d never be able to “keep in touch.” But a medium that allows such superficial forms of expression cannot provide for more than superficial forms of communication, and I’ve found since I’ve quit, that less frequent but more personal communication actually has built stronger friendships – with those friends who most matter.
In that, I see why I’m drawn to people who are more about what they do and how they treat people, than those I was drawn to in the past. How do I turn this understanding into action? And how do I meet people who I can truly trust, whose actions are defined by their morals. Interests can rarely, if ever, show you someones true, inner heart.