Archive for April, 2010

Heidi worlds collide

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What has made me so resistant to Fbook?

Well, that is the purpose of Selfpost | Postself, to investigate this question…

The main thing that has held me back each time I have almost joined is the challenge I foresee in balancing my different ‘worlds’. I’ve learned to handle balancing my different ‘selves,’ although it is an ongoing struggle at times, however, the fear of ‘worlds colliding’ has always been a difficult one for me. Perhaps the challenge is allowing others to experience my evolving multiple selves (artist, teacher, philosopher, writer, academic, student, friend, wife, sister, aunt, daughter, niece, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, neighbour, animal lover, activist, realist, dreamer….) for themselves, yet within a system that defines me merely as a “friend”. I guess one might equate this to the blending of personal and professional worlds…there’s that too.

Quoting the words of George Costanza, “a self divided against itself can not stand.” Or can it?

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Belonging to Fbook

It’s now been a week since joining Fbook. I’ve decided that I like to alternate between the Fbook and FB acronyms. Maybe this is some kind of internal desire to be different, I don’t know. I do know that I like saying Fbook because it makes me feel like I am venting some kind of frustration with the network’s controlling aspects. Demonstrating a very small bit of free speech, perhaps…

Putting aside my dislike for certain restrictive features of the Facebook interface, I must admit that the experience so far has resulted in positive feelings of self-worth – a sense of belonging. I honestly do feel different from when I would lurk under my husband’s profile. And the email bombardment of instant notifications has not been all that bad. Perhaps this is because I have had years of time to build myself up for the constant interaction. I decided to leave the majority of the notification settings to the default to intentionally test myself in terms of how long I could tolerate my inbox being filled.

Inbox Victory, Evan Roth, 2008 (screenshot)

Filtering Immediacy & Chat Anxiety

Half an hour after hitting the button, I receive my first “message”…and one that contained a request, a commitment, of which I needed to respond to immediately. This was not a good sign for my resistant self and the loner within, however, it was exciting and flattering for the ego. Someone cares that I’ve entered the network! And, a message….well, that’s much more effort than a comment on my Wall. Maybe the extreme isolation and loneliness I have felt over the past couple of weeks of writing and grading hell will be comforted by being accepted into this online community. Instantaneous virtual contact….no more of that measly email communication for me! Will Facebook messaging become my more ‘public’ method for virtual relationships, providing easy links to recent online observations I’ve made? Will email function as a more ‘private’ and, perhaps serious, form of contact?

The morning after…
At the beginning of another day of balancing work and research within multiple windows across my two digital screens, an unfamiliar sound alerted me to the fact of something I had missed in all of my Facebook preparation. The online chat filter. I could not avoid it, this would go against my Manifesto. Plus, it was my twelve year old niece who lives 5,000 km away…how could I leave that one unanswered. We had a nice chat and I did feel more ‘connected’. Fortunately it happened at a time where I wasn’t feeling stressed with deadlines, a time where I could actually enjoy the encounter. But right when we ended our chat, I made myself invisible in the Facebook chat. I was already aware of my need to control these technological options. I’m not against chatting, I just like to be able to mentally prepare.…the same way it took me five years to mentally prepare for FB 🙂

LA (Lurkers Anonymous)

Profile Bio:

Hi, my name is Heidi and I’m a Facebook lurker. I now vow to participate as my self (https://postself.wordpress.com).~ April 5, 2010

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I always knew the day would come

I always knew the day would come. I just didn’t know what the exact circumstances would be. More and more I could see how it might become a necessity for my career aspirations, particularly since those aspirations concern critical observations of networked culture. Yet the pull towards abstaining from this social network remained stronger than any desire to join.

Once I made the final decision to join (rather I should say final, final, final decision since I had progressed to this point a few times in the past), I began to anticipate ground rules for myself. I have a severe procrastination problem that I have been receiving treatment for over the past several years. This condition, combined with double-digit hours spent daily in front of the screen, can lead to behaviors that ultimately conflict with any personal sense of accomplishment.

I also found myself spending a great deal of time working on my profile before making it public. Was this merely a form of procrastination that stemmed from my inner resistance to physically hit the ‘join’ button? Was I wanting to be ‘cool’ with the specific interests I listed? Honestly speaking, if it were not for the Manifesto of this project, I would do as others have and not list any of my personal information…but, I have said I would reveal everything. Well, let’s be clear, I will only publish my virtual addresses and will not tell readers how they can physically locate me within the city of Vancouver (yes, I am aware that anyone can piece things together about my routine from my profile and that anything is possible using the internet so if you want to go to all that work, be my guest).

I actually felt anxious when I clicked the button. Maybe it was that ‘cold feet’ feeling people describe before they get married. I think I was also mentally preparing for all the ‘I told you sos’ that would come my way. To repeat, I never said never….it just had to be done under the right circumstances. Eventually it hit me...if I feel there is a lack of self-awareness about our personal interactions with social networks, then I must not only write or make artwork about it, I must reflect on the actual individual experience. I must clarify that  I am not merely referring to the act of using Facebook to document one’s reflections of everyday life, rather I am talking about a deeper understanding of how we are participating and contributing to those reflections within Facebook. Not only an acknowledgment of how we use the tools set up for us in this network and the content we post, but an ontological investigation into this act that has become a ritual of contemporary digital culture. Ontological, meaning how we know and experience ourselves and our being, within this expansive virtual network.
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Introduction: Selfpost | Postself

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Postself is one component to the art project Selfpost | Postself.
I will use this blog to document and reflect upon my relationship to the online networks that I exist within, specifically the network of all social networks – Facebook. Although I became very aware of Facebook when it first emerged on the internet, I have been observing the behaviors of its subjects and analyzing social implications from afar. To fully understand the implications Facebook has on one’s sense of self, and the impact of digital space and time on the human psyche, I have decided to enter this space as myself; I have decided to “selfpost.” Expecting myself to emerge and transform throughout this experience, I intend to document this experience here. I intend to examine the “postself,” and to explore questions about self/selves after Facebook….how selves respond to the digital medium that surrounds us in contemporary culture…a philosophy of the self in an age of social networks.
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Read the project Manifesto here >

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