The Social Web: Narcissism and Voyeurism, Part II

Last week, I posed the following questions in Part I of this column:

How many people cannot truly engage in an outing because they are too busy posting what they are doing online? How much time is being lost at work with employees obsessively checking for updates online? What is this doing to our attention span, individually and collectively?

The answers to the above questions are: 1.) Too many. 2.) Too much. 3.) Shortening it.

After publishing Part I, I came across an article asserting that a certain smartphone was, in part, responsible for decreased workplace productivity. I make a different assertion. I do not blame a tool for its misuse. If we human beings are smart enough to create technologies that have the ability to improve our lives, we should be disciplined enough to use those tools in the right way.

Smart phones, the social web, television, etc. do not make us more or less productive. How we use them makes us more or less productive. We might relate this to just about anything in the human experience. Eating a pastry once in a while, assuming we are otherwise healthy, is not going to kill us. However, gorging on pastries, day in and day out, will no doubt affect our health for the worse.

As I have said on multiple occasions, “Technological advancement without philosophical evolution is not progress.”

If we utilize tools like the social web in a way that addicts us to becoming busybodies, forever checking out what is going on in other people’s lives and if, at the same time, we are caught in a cycle of broadcasting our every activity to the world, no matter how trivial, we are certainly not progressing philosophically.

Whether or not we care about our philosophical underpinnings, the result is that we become toxic voyeur/narcissists, living to look at others and longing for others to look at us. What of productive work? What of creativity? What of living an authentic life based on what we feel and believe? Is our whole life to be nothing more than an exercise in being entertained by the actions of others and seeking attention from them at the same time?

I leave it to you to answer those questions.

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] /

*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.

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