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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
from: http://www.ecuad.ca/~rburnett/Weblog/archives/2010/05/are_social_media_social.html#comments
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?

…..

Rewound

[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.

Late to the party


It’s always a bit awkward to show up at the end of a party. The food has been picked over, the gifts have been opened, and those remaining are either too drunk or too tired to engage in good conversation. Reasons for arriving late most often relate to previous commitments scheduled for the same evening. But remember back in high school when it was cool to hang out with your core group of friends before moving on to the ‘big’ party. And sometimes in the process of the ‘before party,’ everyone would decide to stay put and forget about the ‘big party’. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe the ‘deciding to stay put’ came with age and laziness. I think it also depended on the weather…who wants to leave a nice cozy house to venture out into the freezing cold snow or rain, to risk the potential of a dead party?

I planned a late entrance to the FB party. First I was a voyeur, planning my attack from afar, lurking with caution. After listening to the experiences of party goers — the constant invites from people you don’t remember from high school that you would have nothing in common with, the persistence of wanna be friends who won’t give up the promising relationship they foresee with you, and the barrage of unnecessary visual information streaming minute by minute — I initially restrained from accepting the invites until I sensed that the novelty had worn off and it was safe to enter. Maybe now, there will be less chance of that annoying guy sequestering me in the corner to entertain me with his ’humour’ for hours.

I’m not the only one who decided to wait to ‘join’ > http://mashable.com/2010/04/08/south-park-facebook-episode/

Now I get the feeling that the party might be over….and that the cool people are deciding to call it a night. I know that some of my friends left before I even got here…

There’s this other party starting up down the street that might be good…

image source

Facebook, tell me about yourself

Dear Facebook,

Why do you know so much about me, yet I don’t really know who you are? Why won’t you let me add you as a Friend? Are you in a relationship? If so, how would you define it? What are you looking for? What do you “like”?

You’ve been getting a lot of bad press lately. Do you want to talk about it?  You can talk to me.

Sincerely,

Heidi

“Cousins, come play with us”

Serendipity…
Two significant things happened recently:
1) I watched the movie Fahrenheit 451
2) I became aware of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) website

In the 1966 movie, directed by Francois Truffault, based on the novel by Ray Bradbury, there is a scene in which a domestic wall/video screen functions as the stage for an interactive “play” between the virtual “actors” and the “real” actor at home. The actor at home is invited to participate in dialogue with the other actors when he/she is called upon by name, this making the home actors feel like they have contributed to what transpires in the play. The television program is titled ‘Family Theatre’ and the host refers to the audience as ‘cousins,’ just as everyone in the film/novel refers to one another (a bit cultish). The technology, or rather I should say those who produce the technology, create a false sense of belonging in those that participate. The director makes this idea apparent through the exaggerated absurdity of this scene.

It was exactly 20 days following my ‘outing’ to Fbook, when I flipped to this movie playing on TCM. Although I’ve spent years thinking about these sorts of ideas, this particular scene in the movie really struck me as an early precursor to the false sense of collective identity Facebook offers. Participation and that sense of belongingness is developed from a constructed interface, designed with specific requests and limitations that meet the needs of the creators. This is not to say that there is no value in the interaction that occurs, for both FB friends and the family actors, just that we should be reminded of the layered ‘screens’ that exist between our selves and the “stage”. And…that we need to consider who is asking us to participate.

Coming into the Fbook community, I knew the difficulties that would exist if I were to want to leave with all of my information. In fact, I might have scared off some ‘friends’ by  making a post about this only four days after joining. It was then that I realized that Fbook won’t allow you to post the website name for a group that will help you commit facebook suicide, stating that members find this information offensive. My first authentic Fbook censorship.

On April 28th, EFF published “Facebook’s Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline,” clearly revealing changes that have occurred in the interface from 2005 to 2010. Yes, they are making it easier for us to connect by connecting all of our applications together, but how do they know this is what its ‘users’ want? As an author of a recent Wired article states, “it seems almost inevitable that the web will become, at least for the near future, an extension of Facebook. Like it or not.”

More thinking to do…

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