Zuckerberg’s Hubris

I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks Mark Zuckerberg is arrogant. I don’t usually follow the activities of the rich and the spoiled, and generally their comments come to me with more than one grain of salt. But the other day, one of my friends posted a comment from the one who started Facebook, and I felt the need to comment. It started a great discussion, and it made me think. Some of my thought process is developed here.

You have one identity,” [Zuckerberg] emphasized three times in a single interview with David Kirkpatrick in his book, “The Facebook Effect.” “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly.” He adds: “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”

(from MichealZimmer.org)

According to the creator of Facebook, by presenting more than one version of your “complete” self, you are being inauthentic and cowardly in refusing to disclose your identity as the statement-maker.

(from Conversity.be)

Oh my gosh. Was I ever this full of myself? Even in my 20s? That he would say such a thing, and in the context of a book about the social media system that he started, is… well… arrogant. Does he really think that the software system he started (which may be popular but is far from ubiquitous) has impacted society to this degree? I’m the only one of my family on Facebook, and even that is mostly to stay in contact with friends around the continent. But I think it illustrates how narrow Mr. Zuckerberg’s perspective is, and what a sheltered life he’s had. Or maybe he really is that simple a person. (Maybe that’swhy I haven’t made my millions yet.)

My initial comment on Facebook:

Many of us (if not most) have contradictory persona within ourselves that we’ve simply never learned to incorporate. It takes time and maturity to be able to do that. To call anyone ‘inauthentic’ or ‘cowardly’ for having personal issues unresolved is itself highly judgemental. I am involved in Gay Rodeo and have a degree from a Conservative bible college. For a long time I presented both “selves” independently. If you’d called me “cowardly” for not resolving the issue, I would have abandoned one in favour of the other: and actually become less my “self” in the process. Over time I’ve accepted both within myself. Human beings are much more complex than anything that can be presented in a page on Facebook.”

In Arkansas, many of us had multiple personae: we needed them. We had one for work, one for socializing: and who knows how many others for different contexts. It’s one thing to say that there would have been consequences if our “selves” had crossed the line. But I think it’s more than that. In any situation, we present the elements of ourselves that are relevant to that particular context: there is no reason to divulge other information. To do so is a mark of immaturity. It used to be that when I met someone, I would tell them as early as I could two major things about myself: that I am a brain injury survivor and that I’m gay. I’ve since learned to let it come up… whenever. When I left Arkansas, I was surprised to find that some of my colleagues at work did not know either of these.

Personally, I would say that anyone who does not recognize the contractions within themselves is… inauthentic and does not really know themselves.

When my father died, one of the things we did at his funeral was to take different items or artifacts of his life, some of his favourite “things”, and displayed them at the wake. It was our first funeral: we didn’t know what to do. It was not an open casket, and this gave people something to look at and do while they waited to speak to the family. We had one of his bird houses, his binoculars, a bottle of home-made wine; a rugs he had hooked and a pillows he had sewed. We had some of his home-made jam from wild blackberries, one of his ancient computer print-outs, his study notes from church. We were amazed by the response: everyone who came to talk to us said the learned something about him. It wasn’t that he had tried to hide any of this from any of his friends: he had just been a sufficiently complex individual (as we all are) that it had just never occurred to him that people didn’t know (or would care) about everything that made him up.

He was wrong, of course. And to try to fuse his identities into one would have made him that much less my father.

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