Although, were Momus’ lattice in our breasts

My soul might brook to open it more widely

– Byron

It seems odd that the Greek god Momus is not more of a household name than he is. ‘God of writers and poets, and the personification of satire and mockery’ is not exactly a bad job title, and ‘son of Night’ isn’t too shabby a pedigree either (he even has a cult singer-songwriter named after him). Perhaps one reason for Momus’ relative obscurity is that he never really got on very well with the other gods. He was too busy mocking them to worry about friends. He mocked us humans too, or rather, he mocked the gods who made us.

Momus believed that humans should have been made with a window or lattice work in our chests through which our innermost thoughts and secret desires could be seen. And now, we’ve finally caught up with him.

Through the internet – the way we use it, our social footprints, our behaviours and our habits – we have created our own Momusian lattices. Our social profiles act as X-rays, revealing everything about us. Even before meeting someone for the first time, a few clicks and searches will let you find out their interests; their hobbies; their favourite sandwich filling; the last song they listened to; where they went on holiday; and an Instagram-filtered photo of the last meal they ate.

We can also reverse the process. Not just finding out what the people we meet are interested in, but meeting people who share our interests. The formation of friendships is no longer about luck, circumstance, geography and acceptance (as when, in primary school, you had little option but to make friends with whoever happened to be in your class), but about filtering, searching and eliminating. Twitter is a price-comparison website for friendship; LinkedIn is the GoCompare for jobs.

Social media hasn’t just made us smarter consumers in terms of the products we buy and the way we respond to brands, it’s affected every interaction we have.

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