Friday, April 9, 2010

Section 3 Friday 10AM - Who is more powerful, the user or the profile?

I was watching Southpark on my computer on the internet, because I forget what televisions are, and when I realized the episode focussed on the Facebook society I decided I would blog about it before I even knew it would be so highly related to our recent discussion of the blurred differences and similarities of the physical and digital worlds (I've decided to stop using the term 'real' and rather described the physical world as such because unreal things don't exist; the internet is just as real).
Anyway, in the episode You Have 0 Friends, Stan Marsh attempts to delete the profile his friends made of him and for him, but it defends itself by digitizing Stan and brining him into a blatantly Tron-style visualization of Facebook where they will eventually meet and battle (obviously). In this Tron-Facebook digital media world, Stan Marsh walks through a community of people announcing what is immediately on their mind as well as proclaiming they like a lot of things. Of course, if we had to literally walk around the world of Facebook, even as digital profiles or sweetass blue avatars, it would be too annoying to posts statuses and to announce we like things as we do in the real world (by speaking...and body language).
Although much of the information on Facebook is garbage, when it is used helpfully Facebook truly is an efficient tool for information distribution and archiving; everyone can see when the most popular girl at school becomes a fan and likes some silly little band, and when you like the same band you are more like her and thus more popular. Obviously that sounds ridiculous! But maybe only because society thinks it's dirty to admit that is how things might work.
In another portion of the episode, the writers compare Facebook to the stock market. Many times it seems certain changes in the stock market are fueled by rumors, and the news media also arguably helps in the propagation. Sometimes it even seems like the stock market just isn't real, it just some crazy organized numbers gambling game fueled by silly nothingness. Of course, the stock market does have a very real affect on peoples livelihoods so it is given respect as if it were as real as physical goods. Facebook is like a stock market for social capital, and although it certainly is not the only source of social livelihood for most of those involved, it can be helpful in organizing the social realm.
The Southpark writers also manage to touch on the perks of chatroulette. Eric Cartman describes it as "an amazing gathering place where people from all over the world can share ideas." Of course, when he tries to use it as a friend-making tool for his classmate Kyle, the pair encounter mostly men masturbating. They do eventually find a friend though. "This is the way the world works. If you want to find some quality friends, you've got to wade through all the dicks first."
When the user and the user's profile battle at the end, the profile is huge compared to the user. It could be argued that the profile has more power by having more direct contact with a larger network of others. Power in numbers, numbers due to the speed and organizational tools within the digital realm, power due to survival of the fittest and the popularity of majority rules (wins every time).
Birthdays have changed due to Facebook, specifically the human habits for remembering them. Everybody knows everybody's birthday these days because their public wall is covered with their friends' wall-post-advertisements publicizing their birthday, not to mention Facebook itself reminding you when your friends have special days coming. Today, April 9th, is my birthday. I told Facebook my birthday was April 1st, as an April fool's joke, and then I told Facebook to not display my birthday. Now I'll get to know who my real friends are, right? Well, no, for me whether or not you know my birthday doesn't really dictate our friend status (it's complicated), but I also don't need to have direct contact with the material body that fuels your mind to consider you a friend (its just a bunch of carbon and water and other elements from the periodic table anyway).
I think it is important for everyone to decide how much time the want to spend in each world the live in (the physical world, Facebook, Second Life, etc.) and in that manner rationalize the realness of each respective world in order of how important and helpful it is to your tastes and goals. There is no such thing as unreal, right or wrong. I'm going to bed.


Anonymous said...

may the blessing be with you.........................................

Jack Horkings said...

Does anyone know who posted this kinda creepy porn site?