We’re singing our failures and indulging in our defeats
By: Octavia Nasr
Tell me how you measure success. Actually, you don’t need to tell me. I can probably find out on my own. Just as I can find out your likes and dislikes, hobbies, political views, your friends’ updates, your family’s peculiarities and many other details. Others, with specialized surveillance tools, can find out your secrets, from how much money you make to how you spend it and where.
So much of our life is available these days in raw format, computed, categorized and filed forever. As soon as one becomes a “person of interest,” there is no telling what can spill out. There is no limit to how much of what we consider our most private life can be disseminated to hurt us or entertain the masses.
Judging by the amount of information we are willing to share with strangers every day, we cannot claim to care. How often do we “agree” to terms of service without even thinking, let alone reading the lengthy forms and their fine print?
The problem is that the “real” you – in its ethical, conceptual, human contexts – does not exist in the public domain. Your public personality known to search engines, online voyeurs and hackers is one peel of who you are and that is why you don’t care if anyone finds out. But when you are reduced to that superficial image of you and when your core is missing, will you care then?
The problem is that the “real” you — in its ethical, conceptual, human contexts – does not exist in the public domain
Examine our planet and the existential challenges we face as humans. Compare that to our behavior tracked step by step through our mobile phones and our computers. An ugly truth stares at us: We are avid consumers of superfluous information. Judging by what popular mass media offer these days, we are shallow beings who feed on entertainment and unfounded gossip. We do not have principles and do not stand up for what we believe in. We are heading to our demise entertained by our own failures and further indulging in our own defeats.
This could very well be our darkest information age. Each one has his or her own version of the truth and we agree to have it delivered to people’s fingertips and straight into their brains without much scrutiny, challenge, context or even the option of considering alternative views or opinions. Instead, sinking deeper in trouble, we encourage accepting a perception as truth.
Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.