Thursday, March 20, 2008

Facebook as Social Voyeurism

So here's a thought:

We all know about the pervasiveness of social networking sites. Many have spoken about the concept of "writing ourselves into existence" by, in effect, developing our social skills online.

That was so last week.

While it's true that we have the capability to look up anyone's profile that we want, we don't necessarily have to. In theory, we could render those of us who view our profile anonymous - exposing the nitty-gritty details of our lives online. While it's true that for many, a profile is simply a single frame, an overview of our life as it stood when we logged in, the capabilities of broadband have expanded just how much of ourselves we can show.

Think about how many Facebook photos you've been tagged in. There are over 900 snapshots of four semesters, two summers, two relationships, and countless friendships that have come, gone, or persisted - all available with a click of the mouse. Blogs (just like this one) can outline entire years, events of one's life laid bare online in digital text. Youtube allows us to upload videos of whatever we choose; while not necessarily real-time, are we not exhibiting ourselves to an anonymous public? In fact, by selectively uploading, selectively blogging, and selectively recording, are we not attempting to present the best of ourselves to a world whose approval we seek?

Still, this isn't about everyone. It's just a thought.

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