31 December 2007

Social Objects

Hugh MacLeod's post on Social Objects is fantastic. It perfectly describes how human beings start conversations and getting to know, based on things (objects) we mutually cathect.

And speaking of Social Objects, it's no secret that one of my favorites is Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. In the Ender series, OSC posits that we're connected to other people and things in this universe by way of philotic twines: invisible yet tangible connections based on the mutual love we share for each other or for - dare I say it? - social objects. (Read more at Wikipedia under the heading "Philotic Web".)

Rachel Bellow's comment on Hugh's post really spoke to me:

". . . Social objects are the particular manifestation of shared meaning, right? So that suggests there's a drive underlying all these manifestations....that the social object is not, in itself, the drive. The need for meaning...specifically shared meaning...is a deep human impulse that will, invariably, manifest in some form or another. If not this social object, another. Social networks like Facebook are simply evidence of that quest. Aren't they simply forums where the quest for shared meaning can coalesce and result in manifestation (social objects)?

People tend to be conscious of the social object more than they are of the underlying impulse that led them to it. The search for meaning--a purpose that radiates beyond the limited confines of the self--lies at the center of all human interaction. It seems to me that identifying the nature of that impulse, what sort of meaning is in play at any given time, is really important....and helps us create brilliant social objects to express it, specifically. I imagine that what attracts you to Saul Bellow is the way he expresses his own constant, agonizing quest for meaning...a way of expressing that angst that is similar to your own, that allows you to join him, rather than simply watch with admiration. And so the woman who likes Bellow too must want to soak in that particular bath of meaning as well...which is what attracts you to her. It's the underlying taste for that particular form of meaning that being an SB fan indicates, and to which you respond. Henderson the Rain King isn't the point. Neither is Saul Bellow.

What is the point is that you and this woman share a taste for that particular worldview. That shared taste promises more social object creation between you two in the future. What I'm saying is that I think it's worth understanding at all times what form of meaning a social object is indicating....so that future social objects can can be created in its wake."

Summed up, as C.S. Lewis would put it: "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You, too? Thought I was the only one."

Rock on, Hugh. Rock on, OSC. And rock on, Rachel. I grok yer concepts muchly.

P.S.: whitenoise? Your FAQ about why you're here and what mark you'll leave? For me, I think it centers around this social object thang. To find meaning and those who share it with you. What's more, to create a social object that resonates meaning with others.

From Hugh MacLeod's gapingvoid.com

1 comment:

Whitenoise said...

Hmmm... requires more thought. Thanks, Cheek. Happy New Year to you!