‘Hyves’ and ‘LinkedIn’. My Schizo-life
When people look at my profile on Hyves and LinkedIn they will find only one thing in common: my picture. There is a clear cut line between these two worlds, they are actually existing on two different physical locations on the internet. Are the social platforms a too 2-dimensional representation of my schizo-life?
If I were to conduct a research in this matter I would ask two questions:
1. Who am I presenting anyway?
2. Even if I want to give a complete profile fitting my life, can I?
Danah Boyd speaks about the resemblance of the local hangout of teens in the park and that of a social network site (also Hyves). Her main concern is that teenagers have to learn about who sees these profiles (your parents, teachers etc) and who can profit of them (mainly marketers) and will have to find the balance between what is private and what is public and for who.
If an individual imagines her profile to be primarily of concern to a handful of close friends, she is quite likely to have very few ‘Friends’ and, if the technology allows it, she’ll keep her profile private. If she wants to be speaking to her broader peers, her Friends list is likely to have hundreds or thousands of Friends who are roughly the same age, have the same style, listen to the same music, and are otherwise quite similar to her. She is also quite likely to keep her profile publically visible to anyone so that she can find others in her peer group (boyd 2006).
Of course, two audiences cause participants the greatest headaches: those who hold power over them and those that want to prey on them. The former primarily consists of parents, teachers, bosses, and other authorities. The press have given the impression that the latter is made up of sexual predators, but the most lecherous behaviour tends to come from marketers, scammers, and spammers (boyd 2006).
I think she is quite right about her analysis and advices. But in realising who is seeing my profiles and who is going to do what with them I’m still left with another crucial question in advance: Who am I presenting anyway?
When I look at my profile I feel like a stranger to myself, there is so much of ‘me’ missing. All the things that influence the way I move, articulate (my accent) and the way I look different every day still gets lost in the limited way of expressing this through a networksite. Even if I could add a lot more details I wouldn’t exactly know what the ingredients are that would complete the ‘real’ me. A substitute is created through the way my ‘friends’ can add additional information, and I can add audio and video and my selected view on the world through links. But I will not be there when people access my profile. I cannot decide what to show to who at what particular instance. The way I felt yesterday will be available today, showing who I am not anymore. There is a delay in my portrait.
And more scaring: my portrait is mainly a monologue.
Numerous researches have been done on how we present ourselves for different sets of audiences. Explaining how we carefully construct desirable profiles for our acquaintances, our friends, our boss (or future boss) or our parents. But say that I would like to display the whole of me, would that even be possible? So: Even if I want to give a complete profile fitting my life, can I?
Deleuze has written on schizophrenia as a positive feature. The post-modern subject is “schizophrenized”, liberated from psychoanalysis. Deleuze invites us to follow our natural path toward disintegration. The subject’s movement must be a horizontal one, toward the creation and exploitation of new potentialities. You have to acknowledge “that everything is in flux”.
The subject loses his ‘subjectivity’ (or his is-ness) and becomes a mask to which no permanent code can be assigned. The social pyramid is substituted by the labyrinth at the same time that the individual’s “tree” is replaced with “grass” (“rhizome”).
When I started this post I stated that a social networking site is a flat (2-dimensional) display of who I am (a syntagma of events, links, friends etc adding up to be ‘me’). Is this also what Deleuze is saying about the post-modern subject? A tree is a more paradigmatic symbol and grass more syntagmatic anyway, but grass is more complex in the way that it is not simply linear but it will be able to construct a complex network.
A comparison: a syntagma would be: Saskia is wearing shoes, socks, underwear, jeans, sweater and t-shirt, now if I shuffle the order of things: Saskia is wearing socks, sweater, shoes, underwear, t-shirt and jeans, now I’m actually still wearing the same clothes. The rhizome, I understand as a different syntagma where the possible horizontal connections are so vast that you will never end constructing a series. But it will also not turn into a paradigmatic structure because you will not actively choose between options but you will keep connecting growing number of elements in a series.
I like the idea and it will work a little bit like this within a social networking site already maybe. But I’m still left with two different platforms, such as Hyves and LinkedIn, not being connected. There is a service called Swurl (http://www.swurl.com/ see also the post ‘What Can We Do With ‘Swurl’? by Hannah Biemold http://tinyurl.com/3fmezh) connecting all your social networking or shared applications together for everyone to see. So here my boxing friends can watch my ‘other’ life with my art friends (if they would ever want to do that). The interesting thing is that this mixing works perfectly when I’m out in real life with my art friends and I meet my box friends as bouncers at the club we want to enter. This is how the rhizome unfolds big time, sometimes leaving me embarrassed, sometimes proud to show a part of me that was hidden before. The truth is that on internet a service like swurl will probably not work because the worlds will not accidentally collide but consciously be connected, and when there is no actual need to see over the borders of one’s own backyard, it’s just too convenient not to. My boxing friends will probably not meet my art friends virtually but in real life they probably may (in a situation not profiled or even controlled by myself)
I just can’t totally agree with that…
< http://tinyurl.com/52mj36> 05-10-08
Door Gilles Deleuze, Daniel W. Smith, Michael A. Greco
< http://tinyurl.com/4l6pv2> 05-10-08