Greeks had theatre plays. Romans had gladiator games. We have social networks. To achieve such a sophisticated level of virtuality, humanity had to pass through expansion of film, music competitions, soap operas and reality TV shows, culminating with ultimate substitution for life. Is there life after Facebook?
Media tempt their user. It is easier to send an SMS message then to call someone by phone, or see her in person. For example, few days ago I was texting a girl because I was lacking bravery to call her. By writing a message I would be tempt to construct sentences instead of being sincere – this is main difference between your relation with talk and text function of your phone, says Alek Kezele during our late night encounter in Red Shoes restaurant, next to Belgrade Ada lake.
Also, if it is easy to send message to so many addresses you would be tempted to send meaningless ones. Receiving a message today does not have the same weight as it had a decade ago, when sender had to perform greater effort to write it by hand without possibility to edit and copy/paste its contents. My father Milorad Bojic told me that it was possible to establish better bonds between scientists when there was no Internet. He presumes that now people establish more superficial relations and many messages get no answer.
These were starting points to my understanding how old and new media differ. Winner of this year’s NIN award for best novel Gordana Cirjanic helped me. She was stating for Blic newspaper interview titled “In Claws of Television,” that books try to seduce their readers while viewing reality TV show is much more dangerous as it provides picture and sound to its users, so they do not need to exercise any effort.
Anyway, how destructive might online social networks be if television is so dangerous? Three years ago, after my lecture at Megatrend University on online advertising, young mom and an assistant professor at Faculty for Culture and Media approached me with a concern about Facebook. She was telling me this social network is so tempting, “that young people cannot resist using it”. Except being tempting, mass media are deceptive in a way their users perceive them as expression mechanisms, thinking it is possible substitute direct communication by sending a Facebook message. However one can never express him or her self like in physical presence of other party in conversation. Thus, the danger of online social networks is because they create an impression their addicts live real life.
This effect was not possible with reality TV shows because, although their viewers would feel living through all ups and downs of their heroes, they would not feel like participating – having an active role in their lives. Few months ago, while I was wrapping up my book on this topic, I heard two elderly persons in a restaurant speaking about participants of most popular Serbian music TV competition like if they were their dearest family members. It took me long time to understand whether Grand Show participants were really their family members or not.
Although reality TV gives sense of “false life” to their viewers, it cannot beat online social networks, because of deceptive interactivity. This is where Facebook empowers its users, because it gives them false feeling of activity. In first instance, this cloud of interactivity does not appear as surrogate of life but as real platform communication between people. This brings us to the question of future or rather is there something more sophisticated both in deceptiveness and level of temptation than online social networks? As my friend, pioneer of informatics and professional photographer Aleksandar Dunkic asks – is there life outside Internet? Or, would something more deceptive than Facebook arise?
This is social virtuality. Put on your electronic goggles and dive into socializing based on sensations, with virtual movements, talking, poking and “loving.” This would be combination of second life, Facebook and supreme gadget of alienation – spectacles from movie Edward Scissorhands. In this honour recommend seeing visionary music video Computer Love and thinking through the question weather social virtuality would be culmination of human history?