Identity and embodiment

By Agnieszka Miziolek 

When I have read the chapter “Social Networking”, (pp. 232-237) I could not resist one thought- that the Internet is no longer an addition to our lives, something that is supposed to help us, for instance find different information, or to entertain us in our free time, but it is also something that lives its own life, as a separate “creature”.
This state seems to have started when social networks became very popular and widespread. They have started to sneak in in our lives and dominate them a bit. For many people, especially teenagers, cyberspace seems to be even more important than real life is. They spend more time on the Internet than with their real friends, often not being able to create true relationships in the real world. Of course I don’t want to underestimate the role of the Internet and the degree to which it helps us in our everyday life, also to contact with our real friends, but sometimes I wonder whether the negative effects of it are not bigger and more detrimental to current youths than its positive influence is. In addition to this, if one is not “present” in the cyberspace (he or she doesn’t have a Facebook account, etc.), one is usually significantly excluded from social life, since, for instance after creating a group of friends on a site like Facebook, these friends often communicate there among themselves, leaving other people unaware of their arrangements.
But social networks and other sites are not the last steps in the cyberspace evolution as it also triggers other mechanisms. That’s what I meant by saying above that the cyberspace lives its own life- data put there by us is later “reused” in many different ways. For instance, it inspires researches and artists, who create projects based on data from these sites. Apart from examples we can find in our textbook, I would like to provide you with an interesting example of a Dutch artist, Mirjam Pet-Jacobs, who creates works of art based on information from newspapers, magazines and the Internet, but especially from social network systems, like Facebook, Myspace, Hyves or LinkedIn. More information about her can be found here:
http://www.mirjampetjacobs.nl/Current/current.htm
http://auribuzz.wordpress.com/2009/05/09/jack-and-jill-are-friends-work-of-art-based-on-facebook-by-mirjam-pet-jacobs/

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3 Responses to Identity and embodiment

  1. Eshly Supprijanto says:

    I highly agree with that if you’re not as active as your friends online, that you might be excluded from arrangements that are made on Facebook or Twitter.
    There is so much going on on the internet, that if you slow down a bit, you might lose track.
    And yes, this way Internet, but more importantly social networking sites lead their own lives. I have experienced people who are very well-mouthed on the internet, but in real life they are not as tough and hip as they are on the net. And another great example: my friends and I are very active on social networking sites as Facebook and Twitter on our Blackberries and iPhones. This way we are really up to date of what everybody is doing. But when all of us are at the same place at the same time, there are still people among us who manage to look on their phones and still checking Twitter and Facebook. You can tell how big the impact is of the Internet, when even though you can interact IN REAL LIFE, there is still the temptation to check your online reality.
    But I think Internet is still a great way to express yourself and for personal branding. Here is an example of how Internet can serve for funny purposes:
    Singer Josh Groban sings the tweets (Twitter) of rapper Kanye West. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Axzxe1a78E )

  2. Iris Heuberger says:

    I agree with you that the internet is starting to live its own life. But could you be more specific on the negative effects of internet on our daily lives? You have mentioned people who are excluded from a social environment on the internet, for example Facebook, but that’s just one argument. I personally think some people go too far with the use of the internet. Everything they experience or do is put on it, their whole life is centered around the digital world, they even make pictures just to upload them to Facebook. In general, this is no valuable information and other people might be bothered with it. In my opinion not everyone uses the internet to the same extent which makes it a personal issue. So it is up to you to decide whether you let the internet be helpful or take over your life.

  3. Pim says:

    I think you forget another positive effect of social networking and that is the professional aspect. LinkedIn is a perfect place to expand your professional network. Many people use this medium to show themselves as a prof in their own kind of work. They don’t use or almost never use social media for their private life. So a medium as LinkedIn is very useful for getting jobs or making contact with other people who are linked with their own jobs. In this way, I can’t think about any negatives aspects of professional networking by using the Internet as medium.

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