At first, a few tens of thousands of people, then later millions of people voluntarily entered into a community that wants to know everything about the private life of its members: each member voluntarily gives to this organization all the information possible about himself, even the most intimate ones; and in return, each member receives advice on the best way to behave, to spend his money and to live better. The masters of this community accumulate a fortune, taken from the members who freely confide their secrets to them; these members even pay them in order to obtain the answers to the questions that torment these members the most.
Contrary to what one might think by reading this description, we are not talking about Facebook here, but rather about the Catholic Church and the confession, which for nearly two millennia has dictated the lives of hundreds of millions of faithful. And by submitting to the confessors’ demands, they hope to nourish their hopes of privileged access to paradise after death. Further, in order to surely achieve this, on the advice of their confessors, sometimes they abandon their fortunes to the Church.
Such a parallel ought not shock anyone: entrusting one’s secrets to a third-party in return for comfort is not peculiar to the Church. In fact, it is the great invariant factor of all social organizations.
It is also, for example, the exact description of what psychoanalysis proposes to thousands and millions of volunteers who also pay high costs for the purchase of the promise of well-being. Otherwise, wellness here and now, an earthly paradise. And through this, their analysts make a fortune.
It is again, though caricatured and constrained this time, the way totalitarian systems treat their members, with forced confessions, massive expropriations and condemnations that are accepted with joy and gratitude in the name of the Party, Nation, or of any other transcendental entity.
Social networks are only a new incarnation of this human capacity to confide, tell and confess everything in a narcissistic and redeeming display. And there, we tell everything to a database, which in exchange makes the promise, as illusory as the others, not to abandon us to solitude.
Do not be fooled: the one who gives his most intimate data to Google or Facebook enjoys it as much as the one who confesses or confides. He is no longer alone: the one with whom he shares his secrets immediately becomes a shield against loneliness.
It is certain that these great institutions feed themselves differently from these confessions: the Church does not have a database containing all the confessions of all her faithful (there are however compilations of this kind). And likewise, there is no file of all the confidences made to all the psychoanalysts of the world (again, this also partially exists). In these two cases, these confessions remain locked up, for the most part, in the secrecy of the confessional or the sofa. There are, however, unique parties, that otherwise have vast files, often hand-held, in a summarized and artisanal way.
This is probably the newest trend with social networks: to pool all the secrets of the world, so that those with the knowledge can turn it into an instrument of their power and wealth.
Real freedom supposes, first of all, to free oneself from the illusory need to vent, confide and to say, out of a private circle. Confessions and confidences should remain the highest sign of trust given to others, of friendship and love; rather than misusing it and ourselves on strangers who will inevitably make political use of it.
Knowing how to keep for yourself what bothers you. To find the one who really deserves to be entrusted with the ultimate secret of your soul. It is, undoubtedly, the highest form of self-mastery and condition of true freedom.