Could you live in obscurity? No Facebook celebrity. No personal reality series unfolding on social media. No wide audience knowing what you ate, what you are thinking or doing, or the great people you are with. No sharing music, books, and movies that demonstrate cultural savvy or counter-cultural enlightenment. The only people who know these things are the few you interact with daily in the physical world who love you. Thoughts are shared across the table, not the keyboard, and certainly not on the keyboard under the table. Could you live like this?
What if you wrote a beautiful story or poem, profound article, or other work of art but could not share it with the world? Could you be content with enjoying its beauty yourself? We often create to communicate but could we contently create for creation’s sake?
I am challenged by this thought. It gnaws at me. I love the interaction; the sharing but sometimes it is not sharing. It is broadcasting. Promotion. Diatribe not dialog. That selfish imp inside who cries out to be seen and heard; to be known and loved, even if shallow attention and click-through reaction can be interpreted as love. Was it liked, shared, retweeted, or favorited? Did you see it? Did you care? Do I care? Am I seeing?
For any career, passion, or achievement, could you be content to enjoy it without broadcasting it? What makes us cry out for attention? Why do some feel the need to regurgitate every thought, feeling, and interest upon their Facebook wall or into the Twitterverse? These are carefully managed presentations of ourselves for the world to see. My profile is not my reality. It is a carefully curated illusion presented for consumption. It is brand “me” for the world to see but, the secret we all know, is that it is not me. It is a caricature of who I am and how I live.
The form, the media, is not the problem. It is how I use the power given to me. Will I use it to feed my ego, create celebrity, riding on an emotional roller coaster of shares, likes, and comments? Can I simply enjoy the act of creation, share it, and walk away. No pathetic lingering at the dashboard to see how often it was read and shared. Perhaps this post could live on my computer, for my eyes only. I’m too weak for that now. It must be posted. It must be shared.
But the bright light of the truth dispels the illusion: Internet fame is real world obscurity. Ask the person on the street if they know the famous blogger you follow and they will answer with a blank stare. The joke is on us. We cannot live in obscurity so we carve our place in the virtual world through copious sharing and posting and find that in all the bleeding and baring our soul, we remain obscure. A raindrop of a tweet in a raging river. A heartfelt post quickly scanned and forgotten, dispelled by Grumpy Cat or the meme-of-the-moment. We face the hard reality: in cyberspace, no one can hear you scream.