- Internet & the Web
Human User Manual: Why Everyone Needs a Human Instruction Manual
We are entering into an age of radical transparency. An entire generation is growing up with their lives publicly displayed (in albeit varying degrees) on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. From baby photos posted to Flickr and Facebook to high school checkins on Foursquare, wedding announcements on YouTube, and even funeral announcements on Twitter, it is now possible to have one's entire life tracked and displayed for all to see.
While some voice serious concerns regarding privacy, I am an avid advocate of letting it all hang out. Perhaps this is because I see the world from more of an economic perspective than an emotional perspective. As I see it, secrets lead to flawed systems. Lacking transparency has resulted in large-scale disasters ranging from economic meltdowns tohighly personal and intimate tragedies such as failed relationships (don't believe me? Hello Romeo & Juliet!).
Face it. Honesty is the best policy.
Just think how much easier life would be if we were really frank with each other. If we took efforts to actually understand our friends- how they work and think - and to make ourselves more comprehendible in turn.
It used to be pretty hard to do this, but because modern technology enables so much of one's life to be documented and publicly displayed, personal transparency is within our reach. I say we accelerate this openness. Each person ought to create his or her own human instruction manual or FAQ page.
Whaaaat? A user manual for PEOPLE?
Yeah! Why not? Wouldn't it be nice if each human came with a user manual, or at least a FAQ page?
These pages could be tastefully tucked in to any social media profile or placed anywhere so as to be accessible to anyone who might appreciate the quick reference. They don't have to be complex or exhaustive- as it turns out, we're not so complicated!
As something of a social retard, I would die to be able to pull up a user manual on good friends, family, and new acquaintances. So I thought I might lead by example with the desperate hope that others might create their own. I created a personal user manual and FAQ page in the form of a note attached to my Facebook profile. It took all of fifteen minutes. And now anyone (because my profile is entirely open) will be able to tell when I am stressed, why I am avoiding them, and where I got those cute knee-high boots.
Essential Elements of a Human User Manual
In my opinion, a human instruction manual should consist of the following elements:
- Top frequently asked questions
- FAQ on your character
- FAQ on how to interpret your typical behavior
And if you're extra ballsy or stupid, you might also include
- FAQ on how to manipulate you (e.g. how to make you angry / happy / sad / embarrassed / impressed, etc.)
These extra tips add that bit of human user manual flare that typical FAQ will not provide and take the age of radical transparency to a new level. Oooooh- futuristic-shiny!
The FAQ Element
Each person is unique, and comes with a unique set of curiosities. Surely there are certain questions you get asked on a regular basis that don't get asked of other people. Here are some examples:
- Where did you get that nose job?
- Who taught you to punch like that?
- Is that skin condition contagious?
- WHO SENT YOU???
- Who are you wearing?
These questions address issues other than common likes, religious/political affiliations, and other personality elements that are already commonly covered on social media profiles.
Assembling and answering the questions you are most frequently asked is surprisingly easy, as you're asked them all the time (this is exactly why it's a good idea to post answers to these questions in a public place- it saves you time). The top FAQ I included in my user manual mostly pertain to the source of various accessories I frequently wear, strange eating habits, and social behavior.
Additional User Manual Elements
In addition to answering FAQ, I recommend adding to your human instruction manual some helpful tips on how to best engage with you.
These can be as simple and friendly as some guidelines on how best to reach you and contact you, or as intimate as tips on how to scare, embarrass, and manipulate you.
It is nice to add these features to one's user manual as one cannot "use" two people the same way at all. While complimenting one person is the fastest way to gain his trust, it may be the quickest way to gain another's distrust. Letting people know the quickest way to piss you off or gain your respect helps to ensure that a potential friendship is not lost due to someone who means well inadvertently shooting your budding relationship to Hell.
One might argue that one of the most enjoyable aspects of getting to know one involves discovering these things on one's own. I do admit that this is a fun process, but I would much rather have the opportunity to hit it off with someone than to spend weeks, months, and even years trying to figure out just what I'm doing wrong and what I'm doing right.
Even if you do know these basic things about someone, there is still a TON yet to be discovered. Believe me.
There are three primary benefits of creating your own human user manual are as follows:
- Your friends might create their own: Thus making your life easier!
- Your friends might use you better: Because they actually know what makes you tick!
- You learn a bit more about yourself: Forcing yourself to answer these questions forces you to learn more about yourself.
The drawbacks of creating your own human instruction manual are as follows:
- If you share sensitive information that you don't want other people to know, they'll know it. And you're an idiot.
- If you tell people how to make you scared / angry / pissed / embarrassed / uncomfortable, well, then people know how to do that. Very easily.
But here's the thing. You don't have to share sensitive information or your weaknesses. It's that simple.
SECRET BENEFITS TO THE DRAWBACKS!
Aha!! Yes! There are secret benefits to the drawbacks of even sharing sensitive and private information!
If you publicly share the things that scare you or make you angry, you will know who is a total asshole because they've done something in an obvious effort to make you scared / angry / something else crummy. You'll know it was not an honest mistake. And for this reason, you'll be able to exact appropriate revenge.
What's more, admitting these weaknesses about yourself allows you have an easier go at overcoming them.
Human user manuals: THOUGHTS?
Will You? Or Won't You?
I hope you've realized, by this point, that we all need to come with instruction manuals (or FAQ pages, at least).
They make life easier. They make getting to know other people easier. They save you from potentially disastrous social mistakes. They can help your friends better understand you. They're modern!
They're easy to make and add to a social media profile or personal website. They can be simple or detailed. Formal or intimate. Illustrated or text-only.
So will you? Or won't you?
Share your thoughts in the poll to the left, and if you're really cool, leave a comment!