According to the social mirror theory, people's self-awareness depends on how they see themselves through others's eyes: "we cannot have mirrors in the mind unless there are mirrors in society". Therefore, self-awareness is a social construction where everyone is committed.
The article, although short, is not easy to read. Nevertheless, I would suggest you to give it a try. It is inline with some of the ideas on social construction I have been discussing on both this blob and curtas. I am particularly fond of the role-play mechanism in the mirrors construction. The author goes a little bit further and argue that it is role-playing which distinguishes humans from other animals. However, this aspect is not relevant for what I have in mind.
Why am I bringing up this issue on social mirrors to a blog on technology and people?
I have been thinking for a while on how can technology be used to enhance the human condition. Of course, technology has already done a lot in both economical and social terms; evolution of human societies cannot be dissociated from technology. However, there is place for improvement, in particular in a world where people is overwhelmed by information that they cannot master. In this world it is becoming increasingly difficult to get answers for some question. How are my taxes being used? How can I take control of my information on the internet? And so on and so forth.
While I was thinking on a name for a software application that would allow people to steer their own public image, and ensure some fairness among all concerned, the name SocialMirror came up.
Then I googled for "social mirror" to know whether the name was already taken by another application. Curiously, and in life very often meaning comes after action, I found the social mirror theory.
I envisage an endless game of mirrors where awareness is being continuously reshaped. Mirrors reflect each other and each one adds a bias (see post on a young girl). This bias occurs due to some some new element, either a new external (real) fact or new social construction.
In another post I will address the challenges for the design of a SocialMirror software application.