Free Daily Reads 2022: Article 281

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Existence precedes likes: how online behaviour defines us


Article Summary

This article is the author’s reflection on the increasing responsibility the Internet confers on us, and how that vindicates a certain existentialist principle. The principle is that we are defined by only what we do, and not anything else. That can be extended to say that the whole of the human race is defined by what a single person does, as many such singles make up the accepted codes of behavior for humanity through addition of examples. This knowledge should make our heads heavy with responsibility, but the author feels that we thankfully only face such crushing responsibility at short moments in our lives. However, he adds, that is changing in the age of the Internet. On the web, we are actually only what we do, our identities and suggestions for further consumption from the web selected on the basis of only what we consumed on the web last. When we try to fight this realization of responsibility by going incognito, we are just hiding the truth, and our true, less-than-ideal selves, from our own brains and hearts. Another, and wider, implication of our increased responsibility is that we are building actual standards by which humanity will be held accountable, through each of our choices adding up as behavioral models. In face of that, the optimal course of action is to look the responsibility in the face (and improve our actions).


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Words to learn from this Article:

Existentialism: the school of thought that is concerned with the condition of existence of beings, dealing with factors like the purpose of said existence.

Radical: inherent, fundamental.

Essence: the most significant part of something.

Corollary: something that is proved by the very existence of something else, something that naturally follows from something else.

Harrowing: very mentally taxing.

Vindicates: proves the truth of.

Quintessential: typical.

Collating: assembling together.

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