“Nostalgia for the good old days of disconnection would not just be pointless, it would be hypocritical and ungrateful. But the very magic of the new machines, the efficiency and elegance with which they serve us, obscures what isn’t being served: everything that matters. What Facebook has revealed about human nature—and this is not a minor revelation—is that a connection is not the same thing as a bond, and that instant and total connection is no salvation, no ticket to a happier, better world or a more liberated version of humanity. Solitude used to be good for self-reflection and self-reinvention. But now we are left thinking about who we are all the time, without ever really thinking about who we are. Facebook denies us a pleasure whose profundity we had underestimated: the chance to forget about ourselves for a while, the chance to disconnect.”
What we do on social media platforms is often analyzed as a performance or construction of the self. On this view, what we are doing is giving shape to our identity. What we “Like” is the projected identity, or better yet, the perception and affirmation of that identity by others. This, of course, does not exhaust what is done with social media, but it is an important and pervasive element.
When we think about social media as a field for the construction and enactment of identities, we tend to think of it as the projection, authentic or inauthentic, of a fixed reality. But perhaps we would do well to consider the possibility that identity on social networks is not so much being performed as it is being sought, that behind the identity-work on social media platforms there is an inchoate and fluid reality seeking to take shape by expending itself.”
It’s not hard to imagine how the less confident students, despite moving in a forum that promised connections galore, might grow more isolated, revving the cycle all over again.
I find these results oddly heartbreaking. It seems an irony typical of the Internet that the people who feel safest expressing themselves online actually damage their social standing when they do so. Not because they’re somehow opting out of the real world, as Facebook critics like to insist, but because they are lulled into relaxing their facades. Cheery icons and a shiny, sanitized format make it easy to project the friendliness of a diary onto the Facebook community. Yet the site doesn’t “change” your audience so much as disguise it. Those with low self-esteem may treasure Facebook because it eliminates situations in which social feedback is inevitable (whereas you can’t help seeing your friend’s aggrieved expression when you slip up in person). But you need live feedback to teach you to navigate relationships with grace.
We’ve heard how Internet anonymity—or the illusion of it—can give people license to act like boors. Yet it seems we’re less attuned to the dangers of seeing other Internet users as anonymous or unreal. Social networking sites, with their endlessly personalized apps, can sometimes feel less like meeting places than giant mirrors (Facebook for me has always had the echoey effect of a mansion that a crowd of partiers has just vacated.) Amanda Forest’s study should remind us that when we’re online, for better or for worse, we’re not alone.”
“In our phone survey, we asked SNS users a variety of questions about their close friends on and offline, the kind of support they received from their friends, the level of diversity of their social circles, and their civic and political activity. We matched the answers to those survey questions to data in these users’ Facebook logs and then analyzed the relationship between certain activities on Facebook and the social lives of these users. One key finding is that Facebook users who received more friend requests and those that accepted more of those friend requests tended to report that they received more social support/assistance from friends (on and offline). There was also a weak, but positive relationship between receiving and approving friendship requests, as well as posting status updates, and higher levels of emotional support, such as help with a personal problem.”
Imagine arriving home to find a package on your doorstep. Is it a surprise gift? Chocolates or something similar? Instead, you find a wad of documents, covered in single-spaced small type. As the thrill of surprise rapidly disappears, you realize that these pages are all about you. More particularly, all about your life as it exists on Facebook. Every friend you’ve made—and every friend you’ve deleted—is there. So is every event you’ve been invited to and invitations you’ve accepted. There are the log-in details of the many locations where you’ve accessed your Facebook account, as well as a list of who you’ve “poked” and everyone who’s ever poked you. All this information is covered in the first 50 pages. This is not some random, futuristic scenario. Sadly, it is a present-day reality.
The United Kingdom is one of the first countries to introduce a law enabling social media-users to access their historical data captured by sites like Facebook. All information is required to be supplied to the user on a CD within 40 days. Needless to say, within hours of the law being passed, Facebook was inundated with thousands of requests. It is hard to see how they will be able to comply with the “40 days” requirement.”
The first time I laid eyes on the forthcoming Facebook Timeline feature, I immediately thought of Gawker. And then of TV. And then of how Gawker was trying to become TV and how apparently now Facebook was, too. I think going mass, and — better — becoming a mass of infinitely individualized niches is probably good business, but I don’t enjoy it. That’s about the time I start looking for the door. I might just be an early-product-life-cycle consumer, if there is such a thing. (In the early days of alt rock, I think we used to call these people pretentious assholes.)
Why might that be? Where do they lose me? I think part of it might be that what I’m really interested in is writing. I say that in the lowest-brow way possible. I like snarky writing. I like informal writing. I like long writing. I like short writing. I really don’t care, but my expertise — and thus my fandom — lies in the written word. And there’s a point in the life of every website where it makes business sense to go beyond writing, to other, more expensive, supposedly more compelling media. This is the idea behind enhanced ebooks — that books really contain platform agnostic stories that can be elaborated in a dizzying variety of other media”
Dave Winer wrote a timely piece this morning about how Facebook is scaring him since the new API allows applications to post status items to your Facebook timeline without a users intervention. It is an extension of Facebook Instant and they call it frictionless sharing. The privacy concern here is that because you no longer have to explicitly opt-in to share an item, you may accidentally share a page or an event that you did not intend others to see.
The advice is to log out of Facebook. But logging out of Facebook only de-authorizes your browser from the web application, a number of cookies (including your account number) are still sent along to all requests to facebook.com. Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit. The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.”
“The branding of the self existed long before the Internet and continues to exist offline as well. Performance is something we all do, not a pathology (as Baraniuk’s post hints towards). Facebook only makes clear what these thinkers have known that we all do all the time. Thus, those narcissists Baraniuk describes become reconceptualized as those who are not clever/savvy enough in hiding of their own performativity. What has been pathologized as a disorder is the failure to convincingly pass off one’s fiction as fact. And this pathologization implicitly assumes that there is some fact; some “true” self, an authentic being (a notion that has in its history the Christian concept of the soul).”