In continuation of the theme of my previous blog lets take a look at how some of the other old sayings fare in the age of Social Media. The one that immediately jumps to mind is what is usually referred to as the Golden Rule. Of course I will put in all the usual caveats that I am not interesting in hurting any religious sentiments so for the faithful amongst my readers please DO NOT think so and instead try and read on with an open mind. So lets look at why the Golden Rule fails most of us in this day and age!
To start with its a “Dog eat dog” world today more than ever in every aspect of our lives. One of the biggest consequences of the demands of Social Media in terms of being “In the know” and being relevant is the unavoidable bonfire of one’s vanity! Reminds me of the ending sequence in The Devils Advocate wherein Al Pacino goes “Vanity.. definitely my favorite sin”! Catch it on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M68wcB6L0s.
So what’s this got to do with the Golden Rule you ask? To answer that please forgive me for posing a question in return: “What do you do to quell this burning fire inside of you?”. If you ask me I help those around me to participate in the bonfire of the vanities. Instead of referring to the classic movie I would rather like to point you in the direction of the meaning of the phrase as published in the Urban Dictionary: “An old tradition of burning of any objects that are regarded as sinful or immoral, as if a bonfire fueled by the condemned objects would erase the social problems associated with them.” and voila now the reference to Social Media makes sense!
If you are still confused then here is the simplified version: We purposefully, aggressively, and shamelessly promote our beliefs and dogmas within our social circles so as to gain acceptance and more importantly a sense of belonging so that we may be spared the most disturbing task of trying to determine for ourselves if we are right or wrong. As long as enough people around us agree then we are absolved of all responsibility! In return we are more than happy and willing to help others within our social circles achieve the same objective so that our collective vanities are well taken care of and are on the level. So in fact when it comes to Social Media we break the Golden Rule so often that me might as well have it struck off the record for good! Amen to that!
Most of us have enjoyed the antics of the Nobel prize winning physicist, Richard Feynman, and a few of us may have actually had the pleasure of learning to love Physics through his writings as well. What is interesting to think about though is how his antics would have fared in the social media age?
Most of the extraordinary people tend to be introverts based on most of the studies conducted but every once in a while certain events in ones life such as falling in love with the wrong woman, divorce, kids, death of a loved one, result in a profound change. An extraordinary person is reborn as an extrovert! But to their dismay they find that their extraordinary abilities are now more of an hindrance to adhering to the new prime directive in their lives: Taking an active interest in the lives of those around them!
The extraordinarily challenged people almost immediately resent the intrusion for reasons ranging from: “Everything is too easy for you but not for me” to “Stop being such a condescending jerk”! Instead of appreciating the insights being provided and utilizing them to address the trivial challenges (at least to the extraordinary person) in their lives they choose rather to either simply ignore the advice or in worst case they ostracize the adviser causing unwarranted misery and grief.
One of the main reasons for such a reaction is that lot of the advice given is in the form of recanting an experience in the advisers life: this is what happened to me and this is how I dealt with it. While it makes perfect sense to use some context to give advice it should be noted that in the age of social media everyone is hell bent on believing and proving that their own life experiences deserve more attention and merit than those of anyone else. Hence, any reference to personal experiences immediately puts you on a competitive footing with the very person that you are trying to befriend and help.
Thus, if Mr Feynman were blogging about his exploits in life today it is dubious that his work would be as revered by so many today. Obviously, since as a species we love iconophilia, if the same words were to come after he had already won the Nobel prize then it would be a different matter completely. Needless to say that the importance of those events to Mr Feynman did not change from the time the events occurred to the time that he won the Nobel prize.
Thus the true losers are the people who fail leverage the wisdom of those around them given that the words of those select few are washed away by the white water rapids that are the countless updates flowing through the social media channels. Hence the title of this blog! Stay tuned!