What was Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinking when he invested so much of his time and intelligence proving the relevance of social networking?
Maybe he wanted you to remember the birthday of your high school varsity teammate who moved miles away after graduation. It could be that he wanted you to send invites to friends for your daughter’s birthday party. Or perhaps, he just wanted you to be connected to the rest of the world.
“Ten years ago, I was just trying to help connect people at colleges and a few schools. That was a basic need, where I looked around at the Internet and there were services for a lot of things that you wanted,” Zuckerberg said.
He said he never started it to build a company.
“You could find music; you could find news; you could find information, but you couldn’t find and connect with the people that you cared about, which as people is actually the most important thing. So that seemed like a pretty big hole that needed to get filled,” he further explained.
But come to think of it, ten years ago, was that what we truly needed? Are we, our present selves, thankful for whatever happened, whatever Zuckerberg did for the future world?
By the books, archaeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts, and cultural landscapes. Take note, the record could include Facebook memories, archived Instagram photos, throwback posts and other digital footprints. Yes, digital footprints. It will be traced, studied and analysed in the future.
Be careful on where you step. There are over two billion active social media users in the world. In a way, that makes you think like we are connected no matter where we are. But no, not completely. Most of the time, you still need some real human contact. And that’s where the conflict starts. We think that what we do on social media will not, in any way, hinder our real-life interactions.
But again, no.
Those muddy social media footprints you so enthusiastically posted during your formative high school and college years will last in perpetuity. Until forever. And it means the footprints will follow you until the end of the digital age which is like light years away.
We see daily reminders of how careless social media use can negatively impact our everyday life. Even our future.
Entertaining or entirely invasive?
Facial recognition systems are everywhere. We have it in our phones to unlock and identify us. We have cameras around our cities. All keeping a record of everything we do. Every single thing.
Whether it’s an advertisement we glanced at or an event we attended. These things are here, and we often don’t understand how they work. Most of the time, we are not aware of what their consequences could be. And we see this all around us. It’s difficult to even just imagine how the consequences of our actions today will affect our future.
Future selves as strangers
In an episode of TEDtalk, Anab Jain, a Futurist and designer, shared why we need to imagine different futures.
“Today it can feel like things are happening too fast – so fast, that it can become really difficult for us to form an understanding of our place in history. It creates an overwhelming sense of uncertainty and anxiety, and so, we let the future just happen to us. We don’t connect with that future US,” she said.
She further discussed in her talk, “in our present time, we treat our future selves as a stranger, and the future as a foreign land. It’s not a foreign land; it’s unfolding right in front of us, continually being shaped by our actions today.”
We are that future, and so we must believe that fighting for a future we want is more urgent and necessary than ever before. Now is the right time.
Other worlds are possible
So ask yourself, do you have that big hole that needed to get filled through interacting with people online? Or are you really using those connections to shape the future, to know and understand your place in history?
Let me just quote Anab Jain again, these are heavy words.
“By putting ourselves into different possible futures, by becoming open and willing to embrace the uncertainty and discomfort that such an act can bring, we have the opportunity to imagine new possibilities. We can find optimistic futures; we can find paths forward; we can move beyond hope into action. It means we have the chance to change direction, a chance to have our voices heard, a chance to write ourselves into a future we want. Other worlds are possible.”
The present is more generous now, so here’s the challenge: you know what the future brings. Study and get involved on how you can make it a better one. Be in the moment but take time to fast forward moments once in a while, gather information to inspire action.