Posts Tagged ‘ community ’

“Cousins, come play with us”

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…

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 🙂

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