Think Different (as long as enough people will like it or retweet it)

In Facebook’s Philosophy Kyle Baxter makes a good point about what happens when sharing something becomes part of doing it:

Once the sharing is a part of the doing, you no longer consider whether to do something in the isolation of whether you want to do it. When sharing is a part of the package, you also consider how whatever it is you’re doing will reflect on you. You’ll consider what the general public’s, or your network’s, standards are for it.

Nick Bradbury makes a similar point in The Friction in Frictionless Sharing:

In the past the user only had to decide whether to share something they just read, but now they have to think about every single article before they even read it. If I read this article, then everyone will know I read it, and do I really want people to know I read it?

When you think this all the way through the implications are quite bleak. The theory is that the more we share about our lives, the more we tend to take into consideration what people might think of us before we do something. But it’s not just a passive “I wonder what they’ll think of me”. Figuring out what to do next becomes an obsession, a constant search to answer the same question over and over: what can I do that will get me the most likes or retweets?

It’s a dangerous game – one where we’re not just trying to hang on to our reputations, but actively using our knowledge of what our network “likes” to guide our lives. “Think different” becomes “Think different in a way that will generate the most engagement with my personal brand.” Maybe the value of Allen Salkin’s philosophy that “there is something magical about a life less posted” is that it frees us to live our own lives again.