Social Media: The Modern Mythology – Part 1
How this form of revolutionary communication is molding us much like ancient mythology paved the discourse of the Greeks.
Communication is fascinating. Combine it with the technological development that we are experiencing today on the internet and we're living in the modern makings of mythology. Mythology is based on oral tradition. A passing down from generation to generation of stories and information that define history, heritage, environment, social, economic and political procedures, aesthetics and essentially cultural discipline. Social media as a means of communication and sharing information that takes oral tradition to an exciting elevation level that due to its manipulation of time and space barriers, only serves further to color the palette of the individual's identity.
The Lawless Universe
The internet is our parallel universe. Through sharing through social networks and digital media we are extending and shaping our identities. This alternate universe has been created to represent a kind of utopian ideal of what a socially democratic world would be like. And in the middle of this universe is the currency that this giant, digital ecosystem runs on; knowledge. In the Lawless Universe, or the internet, there is an assumed organic goodwill in place wheree users share and extract information in a totally benevolent and free way. Trust, respect, expected good intentions, along with consent are all things that the internet relations on to maintain a mystical portal to equality and the greater good of its users.
However, in reality this is not the case and as one sees in fables, fairy tales and myths; deviation and malicious trickster tend to stir the pot and spoil the game for everyone. The beauty of the internet is that it is intended to really be an alternate reality in order for it to work peacefully. It's when that what is your real physical reality is compromised through the alternate universe of the digital World Wide Web, that very strange things can start threatening identity and changing human behavior. The most complicated and interesting thing about these issues, its that because the internet literally is largely lawless and ungoverned, the concerns that come up are predominately pejorative and resolution is difficult to come by.
Identity Crisis in The Jungle
Identity construction and destruction are the two sides of motivation for every user on the internet. As your physical body does not translate into the virtual world you create, your online avatar becomes an extension of your identity; something of intrinsic value to each user as this avatar is their online presence and literally their existence in this world. Threatening someone's online reputation can be considered as criminal and as devastating as threatening their real world physical body; in both cases you are destroying the existence of a being. It's a version of jungle fever if you wish to consider just how close the circumstances of one trapped in a lawless realm surrounded by the unknown and the potentially threatening, indeed are, when comparing the online universe and an untamed jungle.
When the Worm Turns in Another Dimension
To understand this properly, opening up your mind to the realistic possibilities of the internet and identity is important. Some of the developments in technology have moved so quickly and integrated themselves in our lives so neatly, that few of us have had time to actually consider how strange our identity dynamics have become. Think of it as literally being able to travel through dimensions. That is what happens when your online universe affects your real identity. Really, what you have done by extending your identity over the internet and engaging this way as an avatar is increased your surface area of existence through the dimensions. Therefore, when the worm turns or fortunes change in your life online, they actually change your physical world too. People link and associate your online reputation with how they know you either they have met you or not.
Time and Space Manipulation
How is this possible? We made it possible through time and space manipulation. Again, this sounds like science-fiction but it's actually just the real analysis of what is going on in current day social and individual identity. The internet has allowed us to be social, to share, to affect and to communicate regardless of demographics or time zones. It has become almost irrelevant where once it was and for the majority of our existence, our defining means of characterization. Our identity as a human being, part of the human race is defined by our position and affect on time and space in the physical world. With the advent of the internet and our presence on social media networks, we have changed the shape of time and space and therefore the possibilities of our identities. This not only increases our power to have a vaster range of influences to affect the environment and those around us, it also makes us more vulnerable as an identity on more levels because we are exposed to more other identities.
The Tree of Knowledge
Since the dawn of man, knowledge has always been the most powerful concept and he who is master of knowledge is master of man. What the internet hopes to achieve in its existence is to provide democracy and equal opportunity in sharing and extracting information and to eradicate the power struggles. This is what Anonymous, the leaderless internet based group protest about when they feel that certain organizations are threatening the right to free knowledge. An example of this is when The Church Of Scientology removed an interview by Scientologist Tom Cruise from the internet as they thought it would be deemed detrimental to their religion's reputation. By trying to enforce censorship, this is seen as limiting knowledge and acting undemocratically. This tends to be deal with on quite an extreme scale as Anonymous is known for their reactionary antics like when they unleashed Project Chanology against the Church of Scientology.
The mythology of the current internet as it is happening right now is inticate and complex with many characters to color the details. Monsters, mysterious underground armies, strange tribes and cults and justice seekers are all present in this lawless universe. See part 2 of Social Media: The Modern Mythology for details on this interpretation on social identity.