In case you missed it, Facebook launched a new product for the Android platform last week called Facebook Home. In the ads, it seems Facebook is tipping its hand for what they think a digitally connected life should look like.
The ads feature people moving through their life – boarding an airplane, in a meeting, and at a family dinner – but with a Facebook-infused twist. Rather than having to deal with the boring stuff happening right in front of them, they are instead able to easily swipe through tiles depicting what their friends are doing, like photos and status updates, and generally distract themselves from the annoying and mind-numbing nature of their present circumstances.
Listen: I am fully in favor of a more connected world. I love the freedom of expression and collaboration that are granted us through these new and emerging platforms. At the same time, I am concerned that our biology hasn’t yet evolved the capacity to handle our technology.
I came across a fascinating term this morning during my study time: compassion fatigue. It describes a condition in which someone has experienced so much trauma (nurses, caregivers, first-responders, soldiers) or has heard so many desperate messages via the news, etc., that they experience a diminished capacity to feel empathy for those who are suffering.
(1) I slightly fear that we are experiencing something similar to compassion fatigue due to the constant stream of news, updates, and other stimuli flowing from our social networks. My concern is that my understanding of relationship is morphing in an unhealthy way. If I know some things about someone, am I really connected to them? Is my cursory knowledge of their life circumstances replacing my desire to really know them?
(2) I’m more concerned that we are training ourselves that momentary boredom is a travesty, and must be remedied by digital entertainment. In following the Ping are we losing our capacity to be here, now, in the moment? We often skim across the surface of our life experiences like a skipping stone rather than being present and mining those experiences for wisdom and insight. Everything is familiar, but we know less. We have the illusion that we’re getting smarter, but we’re losing our capacity to think systemically.
I don’t mean to sound like a curmudgeon, even though I realize I probably do. People can, of course, use technology however and whenever they want. For my part, I just want to ensure that I am not using it as an escape from what’s in front of me. Depth of insight and creative brilliance emerge from synthesis, which results from being present and mindful. I hope that we can learn to use these technologies to help us be more in the moment rather than less so.
Your thoughts: what do you think about these ads and how/whether they encourage following of the Ping?