“I frowned at the search results. Nothing. No Facebook, no Myspace, no blog. It was like he didn’t exist.”
I’m reading a YA book at the moment, “Hush, Hush” which includes that line. It surprised me. I’m not entirely sure why, as I read an excellent post on Sarah Pinborough‘s blog a while back about “I social network therefore I am”-itis.
I’m a fine one to comment (I mean, hello?) but it just seems so odd to me that the attitude turns up in a book like this. Is this how teens (or presumably, this being YA fiction and kids being kids, 9 year-olds) view the world? I can accept that there are plenty of us grown-ups out there shouting nonsense into the void, along with all the other shouty types, but there’s something so sad about kids seeing this as the sole way of “being”. You’re kids: you’re supposed to be developing your own identity, not sitting in front of a computer screen, faking something you most likely aren’t yet. Go out with your friends, hang about in parks, wear ridiculously big boots that rub your feet to bits, obsess about Steve Lamacq & Jo Whiley’s “Evening Session”, read the NME, realise the NME is utter twaddle, discover Kraftwerk…. wait, that was me. Moving on.
The point stands, though. How can you form any sense of who you are, who you’ll turn out to be–who you could be–if your sole definition of identity is a Myspace page? And that’s normal? Is this how identities are formed now, and your cyberself is not just an extension of who you are in reality–but a significant portion of it? Is it even becoming the most important part: the part that’s sought out and judged? First impressions and all that.
Marshall McLuhan, eat your heart out.