Mark Zuckerberg (1984- )

Zuckerberg is at the centre of the most disruptive form of communication since email. Social media is the preferred means of communication of young generations. This new media, epitomized by the all-encompassing Facebook, encourages users to promote their causes, their organizations, their businesses, and themselves.

It facilitates the sharing of personal information, not just with family and friends, long lost acquaintances, colleagues and employers, but with ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, “frenemies” even enemies. Anyone can be a friend and each add drives up the friend count, which feeds ego. Overall, the medium is, to some extent, ego-driven, and many take advantage of it as a platform to tell all or paint the most beautiful picture of their lives for all to see.

Zuckerberg said the goal of Facebook is to make the world transparent. If transparency is a true measure of a healthy democracy, then this new medium has become a valuable tool. The new media helped facilitate the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, both movements which revealed and argued against injustices in both the Western financial system and Middle-East governmental systems.

Facebook may also facilitate narcissism and poor decision-making on a scale never before witnessed, but perhaps these are necessary growing pains, an evolutionary step. Transparency is good in a democracy to keep the powers that be honest. Too much of it, and becoming too comfortable with sharing and accessing the personal information of others, may play on the desires of our lesser selves.

What is clear is that Mark Zuckerberg has created a space, where the lines between the personal and the professional fall away, where political borders mean nothing and to which the general marketplace may be going. This space, a modern tool for sharing whatever you can imagine, has changed the nature of human interaction in all fields of endeavour. It’s up to us how we use it.

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