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Old 02-17-2010, 01:45 PM   #1
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Simultaneous solipsism

The Rag and Bone Shop of the Self: Social Media and Networked Subjectivity ? Generation Bubble

Postmodern alienation has given way to computer-age integration as social media like Facebook and Google Buzz encourage us reduce, reuse and recycle the trappings of identity.
The internet has thus become a field of simultaneous solipsism; it presents itself as infinitely amenable to users’ desire. We quickly become habituated to shaping our internet experience to suit us, to customize everything to our needs, to our tastes, to suit our ideological proclivities. As Varnelis warns, “It is entirely possible to essentially fabricate the outside world, reducing it to a projection of oneself.”
The sum effect of participation in such services as Google Buzz, Twitter and Facebook is to increase the rate at which we believe their is important news about ourselves to share.
From the outside this can seem to betoken a loss of perspective that smacks of clinical narcissism, but from the inside it may well be experienced as a survival instinct, a compulsion to remind the world of one’s continued existence, which is tolerated only on the condition that we are not what we were but have become something else, always.
One of the most obvious effects of this ideologically compelled cultural acceleration is the sudden surge in attention problems, the sense that “Google is making us stupid,” as Nicholas Carr argued in this Atlantic article. Our ability to concentrate on one particular thing begins to register in our consciousness as an anxious sacrifice, our potential to achieve flow states starts to threaten us, as it entails attentional opportunity costs: If we concentrate on one thing, we are wasting the time that could be spent taking in so many other things pressing on the outer edge of our focus. We have been moved from discrimination to distraction, from contemplation to consumption through increasing fragmentation of thought and constant stimulus to move “forward” to the next thing.
But as the data we generate online is more efficiently analyzed, it will be used more and more to predict our proclivities and in some ways determine what we experience online in advance.
Google will be dictating our sense of others and our sense of self according to the design of its proprietary algorithms, whose ultimate goal can only be guessed at as they assiduously, relentlessly pick over our respective garbage dumps.
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