But, today, I found a new statement that brings Zuckerberg’s hubris to a new level.
SocialBeat has a very thoughtful piece urging Zuckerberg to be forthright and explain what he truly and genuinely believes about privacy. While searching for evidence of Zuckerberg’s broader philosophy of information, a passage from David Kirkpatrick’s forthcoming book, The Facebook Effect, is quoted:
“You have one identity,” he 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.”
… Zuckerberg must have skipped that class where Jung and Goffman were discussed. Individuals are constantly managing and restricting flows of information based on the context they are in, switching between identities and persona. I present myself differently when I’m lecturing in the classroom compared to when I’m have a beer with friends. I might present a slightly different identity when I’m at a church meeting compared to when I’m at a football game. This is how we navigate the multiple and increasingly complex spheres of our lives.
To Goffman, I’d add Richard Sennett, whose brilliant but elliptical The Fall of Public Man (Powells, Amazon) is all about the collapse of people’s ability to create public personae for themselves that differ radically from their private selves. Sennett’s idealized version of coffee house culture is in a way an idealization of the Internet before its time – a place where no-one, as the New Yorker cartoon put it, knows that you’re a dog. Facebook appears to be deliberately and systematically making it harder and harder for people to vary their self-presentations according to audience. I think that this broad tendency (if it continues and spreads) impoverishes public life. Certainly, the self that I present on this blog is very different from the self that I present in private life (I’m a lot more combative, for better or worse, in electronically mediated exchanges, than I am in person). It’s also very different from the self that I present on the political science blog that I contribute to. Both differ drastically from the self I present to my students. I don’t think I’m unique in this. And one of the things I like about the Internets is that I can present myself in different ways. This isn’t the result of a lack of integrity – you need to present different ‘selves’ if you want to engage in different kinds of dialogue.
As an aside – this may be a good place to note one of my other selves. I now do a lot of the round-up ‘this is interesting but I don’t have time to blog on it’ link selection that I used to do on Crooked Timber when I had time via a Google Reader feed (apart from the brief Buzz debacle, I’m generally more comfortable with the ways that Google intrudes upon my privacy than Facebook). People who are interested can find my feed at http://www.google.com/reader/shared/henry.farrell (if you have Google Reader or whatever, you can subscribe to this in the usual ways). The latest item shared is this great Boston Review symposium on the corrupting influence of money on medical academia.