Tale of Old, Renewed

The origin of giving children middle names seems to be very relevant today. Apparently, the parents would give their newborn two names, the first being the real name everyone knows, and the second name was to remain obscured from the public knowledge, lest the fairies take away the child by stealing their full name, thus snatching their identities.

Nowadays, our forefathers would shake their heads with immense disappointment at our readiness to give away personal information so quickly, and for free. Even worse, the parents of today seem to plaster the photos of their children everywhere online with silly captions, forever cementing their identities without any thought of possible future consequences. Sounds a bit dramatic, but an online presence is the only one that matters.

Before one is even considered for a job interview, their social media is carefully combed for any dissenting thought or inappropriate behaviour. That drunken tweet about leprechauns you posted two years ago might have cost you a job opportunity, all because you signed the social contract and transferred your person into a digital thought archive. This is how you will be perceived by everyone, so you better behave yourself.

And even if social spaghetti do not define your dinner, the metaballs will.

Good behaviour is rewarded, and bad behaviour does not get punished, but is simply pushed aside so no one sees it, except for whoever decides to dig deep, which would be almost acceptable if 'good' actually meant 'morally positive'. Complete disregard for own privacy seems to be 'good', and such behaviour even earns you a special ribbon! Frequently posting already recycled and deep-fried memes? Yes! Sharing your very original, totally not socially approved thought? Yes! Cloaking your identity with a cool, but completely fictional name? Oh no, no.

That angers the beast, the overlord, the seer. The Algorithm. The ever-watchful, silent face with no features decides upon the fates of many, and the people holding the reins seem to have given up. No one truly knows how The Algorithm operates, how it makes decisions to push one thing, but hide another.

Humans don't really do well with uncertainty. We like to know clear rules of the game before we start playing. Usually, at least. This particular game of social media does not resemble any sort of game we've ever played before, except maybe casino slot machines. And with such uncertain terms, it really is to no one's wonder why people tend to lean on self-censorship when creating a digital copy of themselves. Better safe than sorry.

In a way, The Algorithm is a new god, and social media are the altars to pray upon, and you don't go to church wearing grey sweatpants and a tie-dye shirt.

Somehow, social media has become the middle man in social interactions. Subconsciously, we all seek approval from others, but that has evolved into praying for the invisible hand to give us a head pat, and in turn, we receive what we truly want - likes, hearts, dopamine hits. We are social creatures craving connection and contact, and a job opportunity lost is a much lesser evil than being ostracised on platforms housing hundreds of millions of people. In pursuit of approval from strangers, we've lost our identities, what makes us human. Creativity is sterilised and reduced to trends. Opinions are given to us. Timelines curated, carefully handpicked by god.

The absolute kicker is that we've become the butt of the joke that the AI will be laughing at in the future. We have the one thing they don't, and we just give it away for free.

Do not lose yourself in the sauce. Be creative for creativity's sake, despite what god, or it's overzealous and suspiciously clean followers say. The internet is supposed to be our digital playground, not ... whatever it's turned into. Also never give out your name to fairies.

This article was created by Morrowheart