Archive for June, 2010

Dear Facebook, how are you feeling?

OK…so the title of this entry could imply that I am continuing on my quest to understand the identity of FB, to understand the individuals behind the collective facade. You might also interpret this question from another perspective though…

How does Facebook (aka “community” network) feel as an emotional experience? How do YOU feel when you relate to Facebook? How much of how you feel depends on what’s going on in your own life vs. the life of Fbook?

I’m interested in the identity of FB but also in the experience of FB….which is why I enlisted. If FB is something we experience than maybe we should think about how it not only affects our minds, but also our bodies.

How do we embody Facebook? How does Facebook embody us?

Postself is a project that invites and welcomes collaboration. The following is a guest contribution from Valerie Lyman – her words have inspired me. I have yet to get to know Valerie in “real” life, however, experienced a visceral connection with her on another blog in which we dialogued about social media. I don’t know anything about Valerie except that she is another node in this networked pursuit of the philosophy of the networked self. Valerie, if you’re out there, feel free to expand on your insightful words below….and thanks for contributing to Postself.


May 12, 2010
Valerie Lyman

Another approach to the question of ‘are social media, social?’ could be, after using social media, do you feel like you’ve had a social experience? This leaves out the social value part of the question and focuses more on the feeling of the experience and what it does to the emotional body. The answer for me, surprisingly, is Yes. Even though I am not a fan (another word) of the quality of discourse on say, Facebook, I can and do leave an extended Facebook browsing session feeling much the way I do after leaving an actual visit with my friends – my emotional body is somewhat exercised and I am ready for work. This is not to say they are the same thing, but to find that there is any overlap in sensation at all surprised me. Why should it? The telephone accomplishes the same thing and I never wondered at that. What’s different though is that the telephone is a highly personal, intimate, generally one on one mode of communication. Facebook is personal in as much as identity creation is concerned – the way people mark up their facebook or myspace pages reminds me of an expanded version of the way students once marked up their notebooks or young adults invariably recorded a highly personal outgoing message (usually with music) on their first answering machine – their gateway to the world and small space in which to declare ‘this is me.’

So although social networking sites have expanded this space, the interactions that occur within it are more communal and less personal. We might ask what is the cumulative effect and value for us of such increased impersonal or group communications. The obvious upside is that as Ron pointed out we connect and cross paths with people (and interests) that we otherwise might not have, and can perhaps articulate ourselves into the whole of society with more accuracy than we could before. What is the downside to a de-personalized communication forum as the personal norm?


Character catalogue

How well do our FB profile photos represent us? What can we learn about our selves by examining the pictures we choose to display? How might we archive our FB selves?

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I’ve tried to choose profile pics that relate to aspects of my current Fbook self. Now I can see how these might represent different developmental stages of my FB self journey. At the beginning, I chose a more recent photo that I felt would give a good “first impression” and one that was easily recognizable, straight to the point. Thinking about the upcoming struggle I foresaw with balancing my multiple selves and multiple networks, the first profile pic was the closest match to my “general” self. Other profiles pics convey nostalgic phases, connecting with people from the past, and then transform to images that represent the here and now, working and balancing roles of artist and academic.


voyeuralgia <~)



[always searching]…[always searching]…[always searching]…[always searching]…

media narrative === cut —> loop —> link

Remember when…

:: I remember saying that if I joined Facebook, I would not solicit Friends beyond the people I am currently in contact with. Well, whadya know… I am now searching for long-lost childhood friends. Just when I think I’ve searched for all of them, another one comes to mind. I find myself stopping whatever it is I am doing on my computer to go into Fbook to see if I can find them. After awhile it becomes a game of sorts, a scavenger hunt. What is the drive behind this quest? I don’t think it’s to start up new conversations necessarily….I say this because of my lack of ability to stay up to date with the people I hang out with on a regular basis. I was a bit obsessed for awhile, but the obsession has worn off now. I imagine this is why I haven’t been “searched out” for as much as I thought I would be…everyone else has been on FB for at least a couple of years, thus the novelty of the search has worn off. [Paranoid self: “Or maybe they could give a rat’s ass about me?”]

What is this developmental phase of FB?………………

< Is it curiosity? [What has become of them? Where are they living and what are they doing?] > Is it nostalgia? [Remember when we used to make igloos in the school yard? Remember that smurf-themed birthday party I had?] > Is it voyeurism? [Why don’t I just click on all their photos without friending them? If I’m not sending personal messages, why do I need to know what they are doing on a weekly basis?] > Is it ego-driven? [Why won’t they accept my Friend request?] >

:: I remember saying that if I joined Facebook, I would either be on it too much or never — another one of my all-or-nothing self identifying characteristics. Because Selfpost adheres to a project manifesto that requires me to bare all for others to view, I self-monitor how well I am following the guidelines. Because of the manifesto, I am reaching out to acquaintances and friends to an extent that I would normally not embrace. And I’m getting something back in return...a connection between past selves and present selves, the far and the recent past, a sense of warmth, and a sense of being part of something.

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