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<nettime> Ippolita Collective: In the Facebook Aquarium, Part One Sectio
Patrice Riemens on Sat, 15 Feb 2014 21:07:52 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Ippolita Collective: In the Facebook Aquarium, Part One Section 4,

Part One, Section 4.

Psychological Dynamics: narcissism, exhibitionism, and emotional porn

The first thing we share on Facebook is obviously our own identity, be it
through our (real) name, or, possibly, an avatar. Date of birth and sex -
at the moment two options only, male or female - must be provided, this to
avoid youngster under 13 registering. Or so they say. In practice,
whatever name is given is almost invariably the true first- and surname.
As the homepage states as a welcome "Facebook enables you to connect and
share with people in your entourage" [8]. It is of course easier to trace
somebody if sHe uses her 'real' identity.

Facebook doesn't like us to make use of fake names, since its network
profiles itself as "a community where people use their real identities. We
require everyone to provide their real names, so you always know who
you're connecting with. This helps keep our community safe." "The security
of our community is very important to us. Hence we will delete any account
registered under a false name as soon as we find them out". [9] Ippolita,
being a collective using a name at variance with the identity of its
members while promoting the usage of multiple identities at the same time
cannot help but to completely repudiate such an approach. And this besides
the obvious fact that one individual's identity is ever mutating, even in
terms of biology, and that a name and a place of birth are a bit skinny as
identifier of a human being. The self presents itself to the world as a
theatre play. Identity is a permanent 'under construction' project, it is
neither stable nor unchanging. Only the dead are fixed, living beings are
not - that's why they are living [10]. But we'll leave the philosophical
aspects of identity to rest for now, and concentrate on what makes up the
negotiation (****) of the virtual/on-line identity.

The avatar we chose for our profile is of paramount importance. Hence we
will post a photograph that shows us under the most favourable angle and
arouses interest (with the viewer). This is our 'True Me', not those
pictures where we look tired, bored - or blasted. Embarassing pictures are
those of others, which we will ferret out, in accordance with the dynamics
of exposure and self-exposure: everyone wants to present their best face
while looking for the defects in others with unhealthy abandon. On
Facebook we are all Narcissus looking at his own image as reflected by the
social network. Hence it is important to hide what is embarassing and
unfit to be told, as it risks to make one un-'liked'. And since Facebook
had been originally conceived as a speed-dating site, albeit one geared to
'fish' in the largest possible 'pond' (yet in a very elitist spirit de
prime abord: that of the most closed American shop: the Ivy League
universities, now transformed in a kind of 'mass elitism' [11]), it is
clear that in order to achieve maximum dating score, one needs to show
one's very best face.

The mirror's second move is the image that reflects itself. We reflect in
order to please, not in order to complain. But Narcissus' mirror image
cannot be but a form of exhibitionism to the square power. Compulsive use
is characteristic of the discovery of a new game, especially when the
game's rules compell total self-disclosure - though the more obscene parts
should be expunged, since it is well-known that the Supreme Guardian of
Mores - i.e. Facebook) will terminate accounts if found to host pictures
of naked bodies. Celebrity demands some sacrifices, yet even
micro-celebrity, the currency of Facebook, can only be obtained through
exhibitionism. Fans must be able any time to connect with their

In the society of the massified spectacle, we are all at the same time
applauding spectators, and comedians on stage playing out our virtual
identities. One is impressed by the amount of personal details about their
lives people are prepared to disclose just to get some attention. It is
easy to demonstrate that social network constitute a remarkable arena of
self-exhibitionist masturbation: create a Facebook account with a
believable first- and surname (neither too common nor too obviously
bogus), open an e-mail address (created on Google, and linked to all
mailing lists, newsletters and RSS feeds your alter ego should be
interested in), tell where you went to college, name the football team
you're fan of, quote in detail which music you like and what your hobbies
are. Send as many friendship requests as possible, Facebook will help you
discover scores of new 'friends' you'd never known they existed. Answer
with enthusiasm to those you want to befriend you, send 'm funky links,
kinky LOLcats, offer to take care of their /farmville/[12] stuff - and
yours will be plenty of attention in return. Adding a little 'social
engineering' to your spiel will even make you learn next to everything
about your new 'friends'.

[8] http://www.facebook.com/policy.php
Well, good luck with opening this page, esp. if you are in Italy, esp. if
you're on an IP address to which a FB account is linked. You'll first be
directed to that page's login, but after some difficulty, you'll be able
to reach FB's main page - in Italiano. After even more difficulty, you'll
be able to acces the English language site. But you won't make the last
'policy.php' since FB has decided - for your own good - that you obviously
want to read 'about/privacy/ instead.  Remember: you are not you, Facebook
is you.  FB making you nuts, or inducing machine rage? Relax, more and
more sites do the same. Try FT (Financial Times) for instance. It is the
perfect illustration of what the web has become: a fish trap.  (-transl)
[9] https://www.facebook.com/help/search/?query=real%20names  - first
part, so far as I could retrieve it (not without difficulty, hey it's FB!
Second part I simply (re)translated. The url provided by the autors being
/of course/ invalid, since highly personalised, for that date & time.
[10] References to French books here, all by Francois Laplantine. We'll
see if appropriate english-language refs will appear in the def. version.
Meanwhile you may search for the above-mentionned author, if really
interested - itàs all about the subject, me, us, and the rest ;-)
(****) The academically correct anthropoligical term for 'construction'.
[11] Mass elitism is an ambiguous animal, the basis of many ads campaigns.
The most prized produces are sold 'exclusively' ... to all comers, at an
affordable price, since, we are told, "luxury is a (human) right!". See
for instance M.A.R.C.U.S.E, Miseria humana della publicità. Il nostro
stile di vita sta uccidento il mondo. Milano, Eleuthera, 2006.
[12] Farmville is the most popular game on Facebook. It was created by
on-line game company Zinga and attracts several million players. It
simulate a farmer's life and gamers sow and take care of virtual plants
and trees, and raise cattle as well. The produces so 'obtained' can be
gifted, bartered, sold, and bought.

(to be continued)

Translated by Patrice Riemens
This translation project is supported and facilitated by:
The Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
The Antenna Foundation, Nijmegen
(http://www.antenna.nl - Dutch site)
(http://www.antenna.nl/indexeng.html - english site under construction)
Casa Nostra, Vogogna-Ossola, Italy

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