Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Facebook Low Tech

Experiments can give false results because of factors we are not controlling. We don't know if we have discovered something unless we make continuous use of it.

The only test we have of our science, our knowledge of how the world works, is our use of it. Each machine we put into operation is a continuous experiment, reconfirming the principles on which it was designed.

There is a similar rule we must apply to test our self and social knowledge. The experiments we perform in our every day lives must be confirmed by a technology set in operation.

Friends help us reflect on what makes us angry and afraid, what leads us to love and what takes us away from love. These movements good and bad, from fear to love, love to hatred, have been studied for thousands of years. A kind of technology has developed, and can be practiced.

Friends help us live well by reflecting back to us our actions, helping us question and correct them. In order for gears in a clockworks to work they have to be kept in the right relation to each other. For a friend to help you with advice on how to live he must be in close and continuous contact. The machine of friendship does not work for itself. Like a clock's product is to keep time, friendship's product is to keep love. When we say we get our lives in order, what we mean is get a technology working for us.

We stand back from the operation of the machine that is our self geared in with the world. We are, as the Bhagavad Gita puts it, knowers of the field. We are on the field of battle living our lives there, but our knowledge and stand point is from the outside. We are the operators of the self-in-the-world-machine.

There is doubt now whether the conditions of friendship are controlled in the new social media, whether there is a machine put in continuous operation to confirm the truth of our living together experiments.

Response to email, Facebook and Twitter messages are unpredictable. New friends are suggested for reasons just as unpredictable. You might find that your friends share interest, occupation, entertainments, hobbies, but the surrounding to any meeting of minds, or in person meetings of bodies, are completely, deliberately uncontrolled. Maybe it went well this time, but about the next time, with an unlimited new arrival and departure of friends each with their unlimited new interests and newly abandoned interests, any prediction is impossible.

In Kepler's astronomical geometry, space is filled with mathematical relations, so it serves as a model for our personal lives filled with both movement and order. In the social media, the blank space between planetary orbits Kepler had expelled reappears in our personal lives.

Each moment of internet contact might feel good, feel like real friendship, but each and every connection is untested and uncertain. There is no continuous machine in operation, except the machine as a whole, the social network itself. And what experiment is the social media machine confirming?

Machines don't operate for their own sake. Friendship once was a machine to keep love. Friendship on the social media is a machine to do what?

The social media machine confirms something about the way we live. We saw last time that a sure way to create an avalanche effect in communications is to pass on an image of happiness. To do good and make money you have to be in show business.

The social media can been seen then as technology for creating a life based on reputation, image, imitation. It is proof that the art of life imitating life is in fact being practiced. For at least some, going on a social media site is like descending into Plato's cave, where people are said to be chained facing a wall on which are projected the shadows of puppets being danced behind their backs.