Thursday, October 27, 2011

Society of Facebook

NBBoth the content and style of the text below are taken from:
Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle, available on Marxist Internet Archive and here:

But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence... illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness. 
Feuerbach, Preface to the 2nd edition of The Essence of Christianity

# 1: In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of networks. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.
# 2: The faces detached from every aspect of life fuse in a common stream in which the unity of this life can no longer be re-established. Reality considered partially unfolds, in its own general unity, as a pseudo-world apart, an object of mere contemplation. The specialization of faces of the world is completed in the world of the autonomous face, where the liar has lied to himself. Facebook in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living.
# 3: Facebook presents itself simultaneously as all of society, as part of society, and as instrument of unification. As a part of society it is specifically the sector which concentrates all gazing and all consciousness. Due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is the common ground of the deceived gaze and of false consciousness, and the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of generalized separation.
# 4: Facebook is not a collection of faces, but a social relation among people, mediated by faces.
# 6 : Facebook grasped in its totality is both the result and the project of the existing mode of production. It is not a supplement to the real world, an additional decoration. It is the heart of the unrealism of the real society. In all its specific forms, as information or propaganda, as advertisement or direct entertainment consumption, Facebook is the present model of socially dominant life...

# 167: This society which eliminates geographical distance reproduces distance internally as networked separation.

# 215: Facebook is ideology par excellence, because it exposes and manifests in its fullness the essence of all ideological systems: the impoverishment, servitude and negation of real life. Facebook is materially “the expression of the separation and estrangement between man and man.” Through the “new power of fraud,” concentrated at the base of Facebook in this production, “the new domain of alien beings to whom man is subservient... grows coextensively with the mass of objects.” It is the highest stage of an expansion which has turned need against life. “The need for money is thus the real need produced by political economy, and the only need it produces” (Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts). Facebook extends to all social life the principle which Hegel (in the Realphilosophie of Jena) conceives as the principle of money: it is “the life of what is dead, moving within itself.”
NB: Interesting ideas. The author's name is unavailable, as far as I can tell. The website is elusive, and I now discover that it has disappeared from the Net. I'll try and recover it! DS

To add to the terms used here, such as 
'generalized separation', 
'the deceived gaze', 
'the unrealism of the real'; and 
'the world of the autonomous face, where the liar has lied to himself'; 
here are some other words & expressions come to mind when I think about Facebook-style networks:  'frenetic inertia'; 'narcissism'; 'ventriloquism'; 'ellipse' and 'tailored personae.
Also the term: 'capitalisation of anxiety'

Every mouse-click by known/unknown/little-known persons (potentially) affects our emotions, and can cast a spell over our everyday lives. It has an addictive pull, that increases the time spent on FB, that in turn augments FB's databank and ad-exposure. This is why FB encourages us to keep increasing our 'friends' circles and sub-circles. This is not to imply a wholly negative judgement of FB, but to point to an ever-present element within it. 

Also see: 
Guy Debord: Society of the Spectacle
Is Facebook Making Us Lonely
The Jig Is Up: Time to Get Past Facebook and Invent a New Future
Vagueness: the linguistic virus in spoken language in the late 20th century
Nice Nihilism