The gap

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

Have you done or said or thought anything that you’re not sure you’d be ashamed of? Presumably, the way to find out, or to rid yourself of the nagging bit of your conscious mind we used to call having a conscience, is to disburden yourself of said thought, or utterance, or an account of said action by posting it on Facebook… While you’re at it, make sure you have all your personal data up to date. Fill in all those blanks on your profile page. And make sure that you have set your privacy settings for all aspects of your life to “public.”

You’ll rid yourself of all those nasty second thoughts in a very brief amount of time. The more frequently you simply let it all hang out, the more quickly you’ll eliminate any doubt, of the reflexive sort first, and then you can graduate to that status we all aspire to. Absolute certitude. Don’t you want to be sure you’re right all the time, and know it so thoroughly in every cell of your flesh and bones, in every firing neuron that, in fact, you’ll never question it or yourself again?

Facebook, in short, is the great liberator. Or so is the proposition to be pondered, at least according to one two-bit philosopher, that is, blog-writer. Must be something to it, because this particular blog is accessible on the site of the venerable “The New Yorker.” Must be worth pondering, no? I mean these are the pages in which Rick Hertzberg and Adam Gopnik disburden themselves. This is where Louis Menand gets out his epistemological yayas. Three more articulate, not to mention intellectually estimable, spokespeople for the human condition I can’t think of.

Of course in the blog entry in question, the writer, one Andrea Denhoed, chooses to apostrophize, instead, another not so deep thinker, Mark Zuckerberg, the master haberdasher of the Emperor. I am left, however with the nagging question. Does Mark himself subscribe to the theory Ms. Denhoed so economically encapsulates on his behalf:

“Mark Zuckerberg, for all of his supposed ham-handed obliviousness to the way people think and feel, is attuned to the gap we straddle between performance and secrecy. His vision of a radically transparent society built on open information sharing (on Facebook) is based on the idea that we should all just acknowledge and embrace all the disparate ways we act online, effectively eliminating the distinction between private action and performance. The way to avoid doing anything you’re ashamed of, the argument goes, is not to be ashamed of anything you do. But achieving radical transparency would require more than an overhaul of our online habits; it would require an overhaul of the human character. A radically transparent world would have to be made up of individuals so luxuriously comfortable in their own skins that they would be unbearably annoying. Privacy protects us from surveillance and coercion, and offers the basic human need to be alone with ourselves.”

The rest of the blog post is here:

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