On Monday a friend and I were lamenting how horrifically and enthusiastically a person of our mutual acquaintance is publicly celebrating her adulterous affair. The destruction of one’s family is regrettably blasé all by itself anymore, so commence the mainstreaming of also thoroughly humiliating one’s spouse, I suppose. Did you catch that New York Times story, by the way?
Anyway, my friend mentioned the omnipresence of social media as a frequent factor in such behavior, and I’ve been chewing on that since. Doubtless it’s a profound sociological force, but have you ever mulled exactly what it does? Does it change behavior? Magnify it? Both? Something else?
Some people use a ubiquitous online presence to pretend to be a different person. Of that I am thoroughly convinced, because I’ve seen it so much. In 17 years of having an identifiable net persona, that’s never interested me at all. I don’t think anyone who knows me in real life would tell you I was a markedly different person online. I have trouble writing an innocuous motive for someone who does want that.
I guess there are situations like the one involving the above skank person where such might be a factor. But I think a more important characteristic of self-publishing (particularly to a personal network, as opposed to the web at large) in such situations is that it magnifies poor judgment.
Mind, I don’t think the mistakes it enables are any worse morally than the mistakes anyone ever made. But they’re much harder to take back, and I think they also acquire an unfortunate gravity that then feeds on itself. Hmmm…I already trashed him once; this is just more of the same. No big deal. Submit. Let me post some nauseating lovey-dovey talk about mah boyfran, and who cares who sees it? The children I have with my cuckolded husband can handle it. Submit.
Or is it hopelessly wishful thinking to suppose that there is even that much self-reflection?