We live or perhaps it is best said we have evolved into a day and age when the term transparency has reached its pinnacle. It started with Facebook and seemed to flow into the twitter sphere when we painfully become aware that people enjoyed sharing some of their most intimate moments (whether we wanted them to or not) – remember Anthony Weiner the former congressman sending photos of himself through Twitter?
To what end though? What was and perhaps to some extent still is the point? Do I really need to know what you are doing this very second? Is it our way of justifying some of our most wasteful moments in life in what sometimes may seem completely pointless? What about those who want the world to see how ‘transparent’ they are as they share through location based services like Foursquare or checking in on Facebook (not realizing that predators to some extent are taking advantage of this information) Are we posting because we want everyone we know to know where we are or is this ego based sharing? I wonder how many people really think this through.
The epitome of transparency comes from politicians who declare openly that they have a transparent administration only to find out that they are spying and hiding as much as possible of what they do so as to not create an uprising. I remember President Obama using this term in his speeches while campaigning, calling for transparency in government. He made countless promises on transparency. It didn’t happen but it was a novel idea. I like the term “Authentic Fakes” the title of a book written by David Chidester, who in this case applied this term to religion but I’d like to use it to refer to our politicians.
The word transparency resonated through the industrialized world. In business everyone was calling for more transparency as if by saying that being transparent would somehow be viewed as ethical, moral, the ‘new green’ and place you in the category of solid businesses.
And I have to admit, as much we talk about being transparent, how transparent am I? With hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook and over 10000 followers on Twitter and over 1000 business people in my network on LinkedIn, I make it a point for you to see the highlights of my life. Think about this in a realistic way. I post images of my travels, restaurants, exotic places I visit and it seems as though I do nothing more than travel and am always flying off to some new destination and celebrating something with (my) Michelle, the children or friends somewhere. Case and point; one comment on a post from a recent trip to Europe was, “Did you win the lottery?”
And of course we’ve all seen posts made by arrogant, self centered, narcissists who live double lives and are real butt heads but then only post photos of themselves with their children or images to prove they are the most caring people in the world so no one could ever imagine the other side of these individuals lives. The pendulum always swings both ways.
That is what we have allowed ourselves to be reduced to. We hide behind the facades of online media to portray only the best of the best when it comes to our personal selves, and we are no longer willing to share and expose who we really are and how we truly live our lives and what we have to go through to make these ‘things’ or ‘events’ happen.
We are human and yet we want the world to see us as super human and that we live a life beyond what anyone that really, truly knows us could even imagine us living. What example are we giving the younger generations? I believe that portraying this unrealistic, fantastical life does more harm than good. It creates a level of expectations, and unrealistic wants and desires. Perhaps we are so jaded by this existential existence we begin to close ourselves off to sharing our needs and desires to the point where we shut ourselves off to loved ones and family. People who care for us and may even help us when needed.
Perhaps I am exaggerating in my suggestions here and maybe not. I believe in the The Pareto Principle a.k.a the 80/20 rule. I have been able to apply this rule to many things in life. i.e. 80% of my business income comes from 20% of my clients. Or 80% of the work is accomplished by 20% of your employees and so on. I think 80% of what is on Facebook is a fantastical existence we want others to see and most of all acknowledge. We want to be validated in some way whether it be true or not. It would be great to have someone debate this point and perhaps even perform a study to see how real this number is.
Fact or fiction? Only you really and truly know how transparent and honest you are. Just post your response on Facebook while you are also checking in at the airport in Fiji and let me decide how I will interpret that …