I am a 10 foot giant with sharp claws, fiery breath and titanium for bones. I am a demon times the Hulk further multiplied by Wolverine with the razor wit of Stephen Hawking. I am your worst nightmare. If you are lucky, I can also be your personal Yoda, your watchful Gandalf and even Harry Potter friend rolled into one. I am your biggest fantasy. I am anyone with an internet connection.
The internet, our online presence, is what Karl Marx would call our “character masks.” When we have the luxury of hiding behind our masks, we can become whomever whenever we desire. The advent of social media has taken this idea to the extreme. My online mask isn’t comparable to one I’d cover my face with at a Mardi Gras party; it is much bigger and it is ever-changing. You can’t simply pull my mask down and reveal who I am if you can’t see me. I am omnipresent and I act like I’m all-knowing.
Social media is, as the name suggests, social. It allows me in Boston to connect with you in Budapest on a variety of platforms that allow and encourage interaction. This instant and far-reaching connection is shrinking the world. Brands like this do their part to continue organic conversation and genuine connections, but it is all so fake, isn’t it?
Sure, I could be honest and all that as I interact on Twitter or Pinterest, but what if I get bored and Iwastesomuchtime isn’t funny today? I could like pictures I hate, tweet creepy messages to celebrities and wax poetic on how bad an experience was at such-and-such place, i.e. I want something free. I can quickly turn into that fiery monster and stomp around, stomp around. Maybe my words are true and maybe they aren’t, but good luck trying to pull my mask off.
The flip side is all the positive, life-changing conversations I can have through Instagraming actual maskless pics of me via Facebook or Tweeting actual videos through Vine to my actual friends and family. Better yet, as noted by Paul Adams in Grouped, I can significantly influence my core groups of friends and watch my thoughts spread like wild-fire. Building my brand online, creating the best version of me for the world to see, will make me feel important and superhuman. Good, right?
Problem is, whether you use social media for good or evil, you are wearing a mask. Superheros and villains alike wear masks, their identities concealed for any number of purposes. Online, YOU have the power to project how smart/great/hip you are through what you share and what you do but YOU also have the power to go all hactivist and create chaos before retreating back in the shadows where only online cookies can find you.
I’m on the fence about how “social” social media actually is. As a marketer and a human, I see the opportunities it creates and I’m excited for them. I also see the danger of all the negative feedback, whether by masked monsters or the legitimately angry ‘innocents,’ and if you don’t keep the bat signal constantly on, you could quickly be doomed. As one man on one computer, I will wear the masks I feel situationally suited to wear. That is what I can contr0l, now control yourself masked reader…