Social media has made us really comfortable with watching. We watch all sorts of things all the time.
But the arms-length, self-monitored quality of online interaction means that we are not nearly as comfortable with being watched. In fact, we are constantly bombarded with the risk inherent to being watched in today's hyper-analyzed media culture, even as we each struggle with how involved we each want to be in the watching/being watched paradigm.
Conspiracy theories aside, there is a lesson to be learned here, though, and one that applies to our real-world lives as much as our online ones, and it's in 3 parts:
- Just because someone can watch doesn't mean they will.
- Just because they do watch doesn't mean they hate what they see.
- In the end, watching and being watched is beside the point.
Of course, we learn about the world by watching it. And of course, we grow our world by sharing it (and letting others watch). But our life gets purpose from what happens next: what do we do with what we see when we watch? what do we say to our now-bigger audience?