FDM20c (2011)

Curated by sscheid
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In Danah Boyd’s article “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life” the very first sentence is a quote from Skyler, and 18 year old, who states, “If you’re not on MySpace, you don’t exist” to her mother (1). Social networks, like MySpace, are a way for any person anywhere to create an online identity and communicate with there online community. These five artworks express the different attitudes toward the use of online identities and online social networks that are extremely apparent in the world today. In addition these works encourage one to think critically about how online identities affect our real life identities, instead of just supporting or criticizing these mediums. “Selfpost/Postself” and “Feed Me” are both works that encourage the exploration of online socialization. “Selfpost/Postself” is a blog that Heidi May uses to write about Facebook and what happens when we, the users, participate in Facebook. In her latest blog on January 31st she blogs about a girl who became addicted to Facebook. Towards the end of the blog she writes, “I am an artist and fb is my medium.” In May’s eyes Facebook is not just a way in which you can simply update your latest thought, but instead a way in which you can turn those thoughts into pieces of art. “Feed Me” similarly invites viewers to set up a Twitter account that links to your Facebook account in order to “feed your social network. Feed your life without living!” This quote relates to Boyd’s article about existence on social networks. Social networks allow one to form an identity and communicate with others without actually stepping a foot out into the real world, or in other words without literally existing in real life. In some instances online networks are a way one can step into another’s life. When viewing pictures, updates, and friend’s viewers are almost living another’s life and their experiences. This notion is expressed in the artwork “I Would Have Liked to be One of You.” This piece links viewers to Facebook and promotes stealing your friend’s names. The title alone presents the idea that Facebook can lead to a loss of identity and a long for a new identity. In contrast, “Attention Hog” and “NanoDramas: Identity Pills” both use sarcasm to respond to the use of online networks and media. “Attention Hog” is a game that can be played where you, the hog, try to receive the most attention from other people. This game correlates with Boyd’s article when she discusses friend requesting. She states, “Because Friends are displayed on an individual’s profile, they provide meaningful information about that person; in other words, “You are who you know.”” (13) For teens maintaining the attention from as many “friends” as they can on online networks is a way to form an identity and express how “cool” you are. “NanoDramas: Identity Pills” sarcastically confronts the idea that media controls our lives. “Identity Pills” can be digested and when done will fill your body with experiences that you have yet to actually experience, which in turn can help form your identity. These false experiences can also be linked to how through mediums like Facebook one can stretch the truth and use fake experiences in order to benefit from how they will shape their online identities. I chose to include all of these art works because they show different responses to identity and online social networks. “Selfpost/Postself” and “Feed Me” both appear to be in favor of these networks while “Attention Hog” and “NanoDramas: Identity Pills” both feel as though media and online networks are superficial and ridiculous. “I Would Have Liked to be One of You” does not take a stance on online networks but presents the question, how does online social networking affect our identity and personal reflection? References Boyd, Danah. (in press) “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life.” MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Learning, Identity Volume (ed. David Buckingham).

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