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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Becoming Your Own Hobby (word vomit)

Is it just me, or are people becoming their own hobby? By that I mean, is personal maintenance, reconfiguring, and re-branding ourselves (losing weight, getting smarter, new clothes, etc.) a more prevalent part of our lives due to convenient tools for marketing and selling ourselves via social media, and is it becoming a hobby?

I can't be the only person who spends their free time constantly working on me. I'm sure there are others who are future-oriented.

Does the amount of time one spends contemplating the future and acting on those thoughts have a direct-causal relationship with feelings of obligations to conform to norms? Or is it the other way around? Does one's feelings towards social norms cause them to react, and taking steps to conform a common reaction in our society?

Are norms stronger when one is an active member of social media? Does the public eye affect our attitudes and behavior? Do members of society that are not active on social media sites care less about what others think?

I wonder if social media reaffirms the social boundaries of society? If it does, negative boundaries (redundant?) are strengthened, but perhaps only if deviants are scolded. I think this is what Foucault would say. But perhaps social media also offers a space of resistance, a space to speak publicly against the status quo. I think that social media reaffirms social boundaries & offers a space to resist them or challenge them publicly. But I think those that are contested are those that are generally acknowledged by the public as not being controversial, and issues that appear normal go uncontested. By not contesting certain norms, social media reaffirms aspects of society that might be problematic but not controversial. For example, we see no tolerance for blatant racism, and those who are are scolded (at least in my experience). But issues like going to college or having a career aren't contested as problematic norms. Social media reminds us that those with an education are in someways better, and presumably reminds those who aren't graduates of some university that they are breaking the social boundaries, and are at risk of being scolded. In a way Foucault's idea that punishment is no longer public is in a way antiquated.

I need to get a job...


  1. To summarize:
    1. The amount of time spent on personal maintenance, recongifuring, and re-branding ourselves is worth mentioning.
    2. And the convient tools to market and sell ourselves via social media is noteworthy.
    3. Social media puts punishment back into the public space
    4. And social media strengthens social boundaries.

  2. It doesn't seem that social media is biased towards any particular norms, rather it makes available, as does the internet in general, examples of these norms. As an advocate of personal growth and development, I think it is important to remember free will--that in this case, people can choose to agree or disagree with whichever norm they might choose. Using social media can be very daunting to some and exhilarating to others, however rather that it being about what everyone thinks, it is more about how many people you can attract as friends. Of course it could be argued that this attempt at attraction is intentional and a means of adhering to certain norms, but I find that more often people, on a personal level, would rather be friends with everyone than stereotype themselves.
    As for the first question asked, yes social media is a means of 'selling ourselves.' It also provides an easy access for freedom of expression and allows people to realize the various viewpoints, cultures, and ideas encompassed by their peers and beyond. So in this way, social media poses the question of identity to us, showing us an array of ways to go about answering. Moreover it inspires us to discover the person we would like to be, which, I hope, is a journey everyone will take in their lifetime. Though now, this journey can be taken while in the comfort of our homes or wherever we see fit that has internet really.
    As far as showing us who may be better or not... that is all perception in the end. If we believe that those who go to college and have careers are better than us, then social media helps to broadcast that. If we believe that endless pictures of ourselves makes us more significant in our surrounding worlds, then social media helps to broadcast that.
    Well written post btw. And unfortunately I have not read much Focault, but I feel that in today's age what could be recognized normal and 'norms' are being recognized as more of an option than a set way to be.

  3. I agree I don't think social media as an abstract concept is biased towards any particular norms, but I think when you put social media in a society, members are reminded what is normal and what is deviant unintentionally and intentionally. I agree I don't think it's about what everyone thinks, and definitely is about having friends, etc., but I think it inadvertently has an effect on our actions because it reminds us of boundaries and norms.

    Thanks for the compliment. That's nice to hear. And I haven't read much Foucault either. But it's on my list of things to do. Thanks for commenting.

  4. this point, which Falkor made, is spot on:

    " It also provides an easy access for freedom of expression and allows people to realize the various viewpoints, cultures, and ideas encompassed by their peers and beyond. So in this way, social media poses the question of identity to us, showing us an array of ways to go about answering. Moreover it inspires us to discover the person we would like to be, which, I hope, is a journey everyone will take in their lifetime. "

    This is a huge topic w/ many divergent topics which would be difficult to harness into any one singular premise, but "social media" isn't really anything new, it's just that access has massively expanded... could say that the "Gutenberg Galaxy" was the bigbang of what we know today, superceding oral traditions & allowing "blended learning" w/o an actual physical proximity of entity...

    ...this sort of "techgnosis" allows a cultural consciousness to escape the Black Iron Prison (as SF writer Philip K. Dick called it) & evolve toward a complete unified convergence of myriad brains all interacting w/ one another...

    ...however, PKD also had dire warnings about the control structure & misapplication of such ubiquitous devices...just as in everything else, there appears to be a tribalization clumping of like-minded folks - instead of expansive co-relations there may be contractive isolations w/ each & only those whom reinforce the users already established worldview & reality...

    ...I like to call this era the " postinfo " age & there is still a strong optimism of positive change abounding, altho in many cases, there seems to be a mere distraction involved, where folks tend to not utilize the full capacity of this ever-expanding info-universe & prefer to amplify gossip & games etc etc...

    ...we are living in Borge's beautiful library:

    " I have just written the word ``infinite.'' I have not interpolated this adjective out of rhetorical habit; I say that it is not illogical to think that the world is infinite. Those who judge it to be limited postulate that in remote places the corridors and stairways and hexagons can conceivably come to an end -- which is absurd. Those who imagine it to be without limit forget that the possible number of books does have such a limit. I venture to suggest this solution to the ancient problem: The Library is unlimited and cyclical. If an eternal traveler were to cross it in any direction, after centuries he would see that the same volumes were repeated in the same disorder (which, thus repeated, would be an order: the Order). My solitude is gladdened by this elegant hope."

    ...but some folks don't bother actually checking anything out, contenting themselves instead w/ simple amusements, which is quite disheartening...

    ...anyway, there will most likely come a time of technocultural panic b/c of the overwhelming & invasive nature of monitoring will allow certain elements to maintain a rigid system of control, maybe I'm totally off-base, I really have no idea what I'm talking about... I'll shuttup now, but on the point of education, I'm a highskool droppout & have been greatly aided in my autodidactic pursuits via this innernet-thing...

  5. ...also, I must recco this book, ifya haven't read it yet, b/c it's a great look into historical nonconformity & how the outsider fringes / avantgarde impulse, have usually provided the mechanisms of thought which push a culture forward toward a more fruitful area of philosophical discernment...

    This book is about the hidden history of negation and subversion. Marcus weaves together stories from several seemingly disparate cultural phenomena (rock and roll, punk, Dada, the Free Spirit, millenarians, the Lettrist International, the Situationists, etc.) as he explores the age-old impulse to clear the ground of cultural undergrowth, to destroy all that is false and dead, and to recognize that all the "givens" are arbitrary and therefore disposable.

  6. When Marshall McLuhan first coined the phrase “Global Village” neither the World Wide Web nor the Internet would be created for almost another thirty years. Yet, McLuhan predicted that in the future the world would be using electronic media to transmit information. McLuhan believed in technological determinism , which is the belief that technological development determines social and cultural change. Furthermore, he was able to transform how people viewed media, technology, and communications. He compared the world to one large village that received information through electronic media. He states that by “bringing all social and political functions together in a sudden implosion, electric speed heightened human awareness of responsibility to an intense degree”[8] An important idea that affects our “village” is speed at which information is received. Electronic media enables information to travel across the globe at the speed in which information is transmitted though two people talking face to face. McLuhan states that “'Time' has ceased, 'space' has vanished. We now live in a global village… a simultaneous happening.” McLuhan believed that electronic media would make the world fundamentally smaller and would create a sea of opportunities that people would have even fathomed a decade ago.

    Although McLuhan coined the term “Global Village” and popularized the concept, he was in fact not the very first to predict such an idea. Years earlier in 1926, Nikola Tesla stated,

    “When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.”

    Just in the statement above, Tesla has summarized many of the technologies we have today. Tesla has described not only the television and telephone, but also Skype and other video chat software, as well as cell phones, hand held PDA's and many more. Similarly, it is impressive that Marshall McLuhan was able to predict what is now the World Wide Web so long before its creation. The amount of detail that he hypothesized is considered to be very accurate since our current society is mostly run through electronic media. What used to be a great feat to place on television can now be watched on the Internet hours after it is aired. It can be watched through an iPad or iPod Touch or many other media devices. The phrase, “The medium is the message” becomes more and more relevant to our society as we create new technologies.

  7. ah, yes, here I am again...

    ...back when I was very active online, I was a notorious serial commenter... of late, I've been nonline, but your topic prompted my lookings into the black infohole & here's another tidbit:

    "The way the media has changed the lifestyle of people will result in changes of the way things are in the world. In “5 Reasons the Future Will Be Ruled by BS” by David Wong, he shows where the economic and material world is going. The 5th reason is that the future is going to hang on whether or not businesses will be able to convince you to pay money for things you can otherwise get for free. This “Star Trek” future may already be here. Even after basing it on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, many of these needs people can get solely with digital means. The 4th reason is that businesses will pretend unlimited sources are limited. For example, books free in libraries are trying to be destroyed by their publishers because E-Books are a moneymaker. This is known as FARTS which is False ARTificial Scarcity. The 3rd is that people will continue to be trained to pay for things that don’t have to cost money; like bottled water. The 2nd is that the future will turn into being completely digital. This has been seen in music, movies, video games, etc. Even human labor could be not needed anymore; for example clerks at grocery stores are now self check-out lines. The 1st reason given in the article is the bullshit aspect being the only way to save society. In order to sell products or services, bullshitting people will have to be the only way to gain purchases because there is going to be free alternatives. This is how media has changed the world and the people in it."

    = )