I am sitting here looking through my Flickr stream and reflecting on how many photos there are. I love how they in many ways chart my life and also reflect periods of creativity. This has started me thinking about how we interact in this world and how many of us play out our lives not just in the physical world, but increasingly online as well. Anyone stumbling on to my photo stream, who would care to spend some of their precious time browsing through it, would get a very clear picture of my life over the past 3-4 years. See my humour, my trips, my creativity, my periods of lull when I either shot boring portraits of myself or indeed, none at all. Here, online, I have built up a catalogue of my life, a profile.
I am of course one of many millions doing this, which really is building up an amazing social commentary of people all around the world. This window is amazing and I find it endlessly fascinating to dip into these people's lives and see them tell their story, witness a portion of their heart, soul and spirit. I feel closer to people and closer to humanity when I do this.
When you combine this with the profiles people are building on other social media platforms and you get a truly amazing thing. At once often incredibly mundane and boring, but also a true living picture of humanity and the life that exists on this planet. Hearts being broken and filled with love. Sadness, loss, joy, triumph and delight. These last two sentences could refer to just one persons online presence or the whole planet.
Yet of course, this can also become very tiring. I have seen early social media adopters become tired of this online life and retreat from a particular platform or online altogether. I have also seen them come back. The risk of living your life too openly online is well known. Lost jobs, relationships, stalkers and indeed, sadly on some occasions, the loss of life. It is all to easy to become fooled into thinking the seemingly secure feeling of interacting online and not being face to face with strangers is totally without risk. It is not.
Yet, I think the many benefits, the wonderful interaction of people across the globe, the breaking down of the physical barriers, the opportunity to learn, to vent, to love and be loved, is worth any potential draw backs and risks. I feel very lucky that I live in these times and are able to experience all this.