Virtual Insanity: Social Media with Jacques Lacan

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Jacques Lacan draws[A post from Peter Hardy, longtime fan and contributor]

For a couple of years I have been lurking on PEL’s Facebook group, biding my time for the perfect moment to pounce on this blog.  Recently I got to thinking about the philosophical ramifications of social media. Especially as we’ve just been looking at Jacques Lacan, for whom a central concern was to highlight negative aspects of language and by extension, social interaction.

I’ve been aware of Lacan through semiotics and literary criticism for several years – ‘the Lacan of the second podcast‘ – I would have said, but over the past weeks I’ve found it impossible to develop my understanding of this aspect of his thought without also studying Lacan the psychoanalyst and philosopher of the self.i  I simply want to relate some of my own views on these digital phenomena of our age to some of Lacan’s ideas, as I (mis)understand them. I do not intend to make moral judgments.

Circuits of Disconnection

The most inescapable fact about social media today is its very inescapability. The internet was already ubiquitous before Facebook’s ascendancy,ii but the integration of the two with mobile devices has precipitated a dramatic increase in the accessibility and usage of both. This process may be similarly accelerated by the coming developments in augmented reality technologies which will layer electronic media directly into our field of vision.iii What all this means is that social media content and facilities permeate our everyday lives and work such that our physical existence is shot through with a virtual one.

These developments are typically analyzed in terms of greater ‘connectivity’- instantaneous communication at any time and place. So the speed of connection is every much important as its breadth and diversity. Presently many people experience social media within a state of hyper-connectivity which produces a virtual closeness to others. This is the first way in which I’d like to use Lacan, with his concept of ‘reality’.

‘Reality’, like everything else in Lacan, is unnecessarily complicated, in this case because it comprises our experience of the world insofar as it is illusory, and is therefore opposed to his register of the Real.iv  ‘Reality’ is a field constituted from Lacan’s other two registers of the human psyche, “the Imaginary and the Symbolic… taken together as mutually integrated”.v  ‘Reality’ is therefore a fictional construction of images and signifiers- as good a description of life on Facebook as any. Our experience of social media is one of a collective fantasy produced by the mutual production and exchange of selective idealisations of our lives.

A test of my analogy is the insights it generates. In the most crude example, social media facilitates non-veridical realities by providing those who are typically shy or unpopular in face-to-face society with a means to a fantasyvi life in contradistinction to this. Unfortunately, the same prerequisites for this, particularly the ease of maintaining anonymity, also enable the phenomenon of ‘trolling’.

The seemingly all-inclusive effectiveness of our online presence and connections also disincentivise us from keeping in touch with others in a fully human way. Just one illustration of this that I experience myself is that because of the quantity of information about our activities, interests and feelings we make publicly available to our social network when we do meet our good friends in person, even if for the first time in a week or two, we have nothing to say to each other. There is nothing new to relate. It’s especially telling of the alienation behind such circumstances that they often become discussions of what the other has missed on Facebook and Twitter recently. A second, more general consequence is that the social media presence of members of our network constantly reassures us that they are alive and well, and hence do not require our personal attention (if it wasn’t easy enough to become complacent about relationships naturally). 

Such alienating effects call to mind Lacan’s notion ‘the wall of language’.vii As a system abstracted from any subject, the social network, like language, presents an inhuman obstruction between us and our interlocutors.viii Indeed, it is more insightful to think of social media as an extension of language -as a symbolic order- than as analogous with reality. Not that this is much of a jump, because as Lacan matured (if a guy who draws diagrams about phalluses can be said to mature) he increased his emphasis on the symbolic register rather than the imaginary, and moreover, it is the symbolic which plays the essential regulating function for reality.ix

Before discussing some other issues I should point out that the division (or ‘cleavage’ as  psychoanalysts would no doubt prefer) caused by social media qua language is not limited to our imagination and communication within personal networks. As you may have noted, my model of social media engagement applies only to particularly active users, often of a younger generation. And it is from here that these divisions begat ramifications on a societal level. Namely, the all-pervasive dominance of new electronic media in society excludes non-users as if they don’t speak the local language,x  which, in a significant sense, they do not. When he lived without the internet for a year, the tech journalist Paul Miller discovered in strongest possible sense that “The internet is where people are.”xi And while this means that “the internet isn’t an individual pursuit”, this very fantasy of social integration allows its isolating and divisive effects to go unnoticed.

Let us shift focus from the ubiquity of social media its other chief characteristic: speed. I imagine that most of the people who will read this are in North America, but those elsewhere will nevertheless be able to engage in instant conversation with those of you who in the comments will obliterate my position. Contrast this with the communicative technologies available a little over a century ago: “A letter” Nietzsche says, “is an unannounced visit, the mailman the mediator of impolite excursions.” Not only are they slow and received just once daily, but in a culture unaccustomed to our high volume of (mostly text based) distance communications, letters can be viewed as awkward intrusions. Moreover, Nietzsche continues: “One ought to have one hour in every eight days for receiving letters, and then take a bath.”xii Admittedly, Friedrich was not the most amiable fellow (as few of us who bathe less than weekly are)xiii but the contrast in attitudes could not be starker.

If we are sending more messages to a greater number of people and doing so more quickly, what effect does this have on our communication? The time we spend on long and/or slow-paced discussions is in general reduced. Perhaps we are also moving towards a norm of fewer closer relationships and more causal ones. But most clearly we are simplifying our messages.

Now, I am not referring to ‘textspeak’ because after all that arose in telegrams as well as in the SMS medium. Indeed, preeminent linguists such as David Crystal have quite responsibly weighed in against popular hysteria that it is corroding language skills, particularly among the young. Abbreviation is not in itself particularly significant. But things are often much more complex than people would like to accept,xiv and that the creeping simplification of our communication may well exacerbate the effects of such denial. 

What is the complexity that is blocked by the symbolic? It is the Real. Lacan insists that it is because the Real is “extremely complex” that it is “incomprehensible”.xv Let us place this in the context of the register theory. The imaginary is prior to the symbolic: first the Real is ‘carved up’ into images, and then in a second movement, the images are carved up into linguistic symbols. This second ‘carving’ nails down the images, giving them a ‘value’ in Saussure’s sense.xvi Darian Leader elaborates: “A word does not reveal its meaning so simply. Rather it leads on to other words in a linguistic chain, just like one meaning itself to others. The group of meanings is organized by the links between the words.”xvii Lacan’s semiotics, therefore, emphasises resistance between signifier and signified rather than transparency. 

Not only is there a resistance inherent in the structure because meaning is organized in groups of words (a ‘semantic field’) rather than in an ideal correspondence of one signifier to one signified. More importantly, there is a resistance in practice between what we experience, what we feel we should say, and the meaning that is attributed to what we have said. There are many reasons why this can be, but the increased frequency and simplification of our messages factors especially in today’s social media culture of expedience. The consequence of this is that is the the complex, the Real, is suppressed (ignored and/or blocked), perpetuating an illusory ‘reality’. 

Peter Hardy is a philosophical education specialist. You can follow him on Twitter @VibrantBliss

Notes

i Despite this, I decided to begin with Slavoj Zizek’s book How To Read Lacan (which was mentioned at the beginning of the first podcast), rather than the readings for the podcast themselves. I won’t, however, be looking into Zizek’s own views on social media (which I’m sure he has plenty of out there), nor for that matter, what Lacanian psychoanalysts have written about it. If you’d like to do this, it would be great to comment about it below.

ii I didn’t plan on digressing this early on, but I couldn’t fail to mention that no sooner had I written those words than, in one of my reality’s more poetic moments, a large pink truck with the Facebook logo on each side drove past me!

iii Currently the most prevalent augmented reality technology is the QR code, which is arguably an instantiation of the same principle behind the ‘annotated vision’ of the Google Glass, albeit presented in reverse. That is, rather than the subject imposing relevant electronic media upon the objects of experience, objects of experience present the subject with relevant electronic media.

iv A further complication is that ‘the Real’ does not itself denote real reality either, since it is a psychoanalytic category referring to phenomenological reality in the form of senses, urges and feelings. As Wikipedia puts it, it is “something faced with which all words cease and all categories fail, the object of anxiety par excellence.” The primary way in which the Real makes us anxious is that it is the home of jouissance, violent intrusions of unbearable visceral emotion. Since the Real is unmediated it is truly real, and is indeed our only contact with real reality for Lacan. For this reason it is appropriate to use it in Lacanian analyses as a correlate for (real) reality more generally.

vi I must stress that Lacan does not equate ‘reality’ and fantasy. He conceives of fantasy as function of desire in broadly Freudian terms that I do not have space to elaborate here. Related to this is his distinct notion of the ‘Phantasy’, which is itself related to the ‘phallus’ which is a signifier associated with the objet a (though not a symbol for it- since the objet a belongs to the register of the Real it is unsymbolizable).

vii That interpersonal communication on Facebook takes place through ‘walls’ is purely incidental here, however apt that name may turn out to be.

viii Leader, Darian, (2005), Introducing Lacan, Icon, Cambridge (UK), p. 78

ix Kul-Want, Christopher, (2011), Introducing Zizek, Icon, London, p. 122

xii Nietzsche, Friedrich, (1880), The Wanderer and His Shadow, §261

xiii Although I’m joking, the fact that we cannot smell each other in electronic communication (even on Skype!) is rarely remarked upon, and is salient from a physiological point of view. For example, bodily pheromones play an important role in sexual attraction. Perhaps if Nietzsche had been able to impress girls with aphoristic tweets he wouldn’t have got that crush on that horse.

xiv Along with such protestations for simplicity it is not unusual to encounter statements to the effect that ‘anything that cannot be expressed clearly cannot be true’. A large claim to make, and one which anyone who has benefited from studying obtusely technical philosophy knows to be false.

xv Quoted in: Zizek, Slavoj, (2006), How To Read Lacan, Granta, London,p. 65. The Real is not simply the residuum of that true reality which could not be symbolized, “It is not a substantial thing that resists being caught in the symbolic network, but the fissure between the symbolic network itself.” Zizek explains that Lacan had a similar shift in thought to Einstein. Just as the Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity stated that matter caused the curvature in space but the General Theory reversed the causality to hold that matter is an effect of space’s curvature, Lacan shifted from the view that the Real caused the fragmentation of the symbolic (its “gaps and inconsistencies”) to the view that the Real was itself an effect of this fragmentation. It doesn’t exist in its own right, rather, he says that it ex/ists. (pp. 72-3) Elsewhere this is put that the Real is a disruption in the unconcious caused by the inadequacy of the signifier attached to a signified.

xvi For Ferdinand de Saussure, the father of structural linguistics, languages are formal systems of signs, structures in which the value of an element is derived from its relationships to other elements- it’s place in the structure. This value is a structural construct separate from meaning. Meaning, by contrast, arises from the process of signification. Here Saussure calls the sign that refers but is itself meaningless, ‘the signifier’, and the meaning to which a signifier corresponds, ‘the signified’. (Both meaning and value are dependent on the differences between signs, but a specific meaning is not dependent on a specific value since the same word can have the same meaning in two different languages without having the same value.)

xvii Leader, Darian, (2005), Introducing Lacan, Icon, Cambridge (UK), p. 39

 

Comments

  1. dmf

    May 21, 2013

    ‘Velocity’ is the key word of Paul Virilio’s thinking, the post-modern treasure, and the modern society capital. Reality is no longer defined by time and space, but in a virtual world, in which technology allows the existence of the paradox of being everywhere at the same time while being nowhere at all. The loss of the site, city, and nation in favor of globalization implies also the loss of rights and of democracy, as these are contrary to the immediate and instantaneous nature of information. In Paul Virilio’s view, Marshall McLuhan’s global village is nothing but a ‘World Ghetto’.
    http://www.egs.edu/faculty/paul-virilio/biography/

    • Peter Hardy

      May 22, 2013

      Thanks dmf, I’ve not got around to reading any Virilio yet but that sounds fascinating, and indeed, this ‘paradox of being everywhere at the same time while being nowhere at all’ is indeed one of the processes I’m referring to, although I didn’t articulate it in that way myself.

        • Peter Hardy

          May 22, 2013

          Thanks there’s one or two videos I haven’t seen yet. Yeah Baudrillard is one of my favourite thinkers- my interest in this area comes from him, which is why I thought it would be fun to try and look at it through another Jean. Also, we wouldn’t want to spoil the podcast on him :)

          • dmf

            May 22, 2013

            not sure that he is on the list, or if Marshall McLuhan is either but MM would be an interesting way into these areas without another tour de France.

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            Daniel Cole

            May 23, 2013

            As usual, another good recommendation from dmf. IMO there’s more insight in McLuhan than all of the current gabbing on media combined, not to mention that he’s nearly always more fun to read. Lacan is a different lens through which to look at it, so thanks for an interesting post.

  2. Profile photo of Wayne Schroeder

    Wayne Schroeder

    May 21, 2013

    Peter–
    Very stimulating connection between social media and Lacan. There seems to be two streams of interpretation in your article regarding the Real:
    1) “Truly” Real:”the Real is unmediated it is truly real, and is indeed our only contact with real reality for Lacan,” which I think is inaccurate in that the Real is the foundation for the Symbolic and Imaginary (the carved out metaphor works well), the structure without structure which drives us to the structure of the symbolic and the imaginary, without becoming signified, structured or imagined. (Perhaps this what you mean anyhow–sorry if I got that implication wrong).

    2) Real: “It is not a substantial thing that resists being caught in the symbolic network, but the fissure between the symbolic network itself” (Zizek), which I think is accurate–all about the fissure, the abyss, the unsymbolized unconscious, not to be conflated with reality or truth. For me the metaphor for the Real is a bolt of lightning which indicates that the Real is happening, but is not the lightning bolt itself.

    Applying this to social media, I appreciate how you outline how social media develops an unreality of perceived connection in the absence of the reality of a human presence. Just as an added thought, I have also found the opposite to be true at times, when the space actually allows room to be more personally expressive rather than having to pay attention to what can be limiting social expectations. Sometimes sitting down and writing out one’s thoughts gets closer to personal truth–but not a good way to go in general. Thanks again for your insights, Peter.

    • Peter Hardy

      May 22, 2013

      Thanks Wayne, given your knowledge of the area I’m flattered that you didn’t think it was complete nonsense. There is a whole second half to this about the symbolic order and the big Other, however, which you may see fit to dismantle.

      I’m aware of this tension between the two descriptions of the concept of the Real. I decided to include ‘no. 2′ as a footnote because it was a caveat not covered in the podcasts. Zizek seemed to be saying that no. 2 was a later development in Lacan. I don’t understand no. 2 as well -partly because I don’t know all the similarities and differences between it and no. 1- but I get the impression it isn’t as applicable to the point I was trying to make ([real] reality in its complexity being suppressed by the simplifications involved in communication).

      This isn’t problematic for my project here because I’m not arguing on the basis that what I’m saying can be inferred from what the correctness of Lacan’s thought. I’m just relating a consistent interpretation of some Lacanian concepts to my thoughts in order to clarify the latter. If it also clarifies the former that is an added bonus.

      Wayne: “I have also found the opposite to be true at times, when the space [of social media] actually allows room to be more personally expressive rather than having to pay attention to what can be limiting social expectations.” – Absolutely.

      • Peter Hardy

        May 26, 2013

        *from the correctness of… (3rd paragraph).

  3. Peter Hardy

    May 26, 2013

    Correction: The sentence with the link to footnote xiv should not have the word ‘that’ in it.

    • Peter Hardy

      May 29, 2013

      Thanks to Eric Vee for more corrections. In the paragraph beginning “Before” there should be a ‘the’ before “strongest possible sense”. Two sentences later there should be a ‘to’ before “its other chief characteristic”. And in the paragraph beginning “If”, “more causal ones” should be “more casual ones”- I’m always making that mistake!

  4. Rachel Ross

    May 26, 2013

    Really interesting piece. I gotta say that I agree with Wayne, above, in his last paragraph. I know that it can be incredibly easy to not be real or only show a superficial real (if that is even possible) via social media. However, maybe it relies mostly on the user. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve everywhere: in real life and through social media. I always have to be authentically me. As a result I have met friends via social media (who live far from me) who are now close, very real friends who have come and stayed at my house for extended visits. In a very REAL way people can use the amazing connectivity of social media to find their ‘soul friends’ for lack of a better term (I already have the soul mate…am married to him.) My life has been enriched IMMEASURABLY by social media. I think it all comes down to intent.

      • Peter Hardy

        June 3, 2013

        Thanks dmf, I watched that lecture and read the associated articles. I don’t know how you find all these amazing things like this and the Sherry Turkle book (which I won’t have time to read now), but Stiegler makes some of the same points I was planning to make in a follow up to this piece, so I am having to delay that so I can adapt it and properly cite him.

        The problem with focusing on intent is that one is aware of one’s own but not that of others. The intent of others is not transparent and is often irrational and/or incommensurable with our own experience.

        • dmf

          June 3, 2013

          indeed tho I’m not so sure that we are even so (or even capable of being really) aware of our own intentions, we are just starting to understand how limited many of our traditional/habitual forms of communication/exchange really are, as Derrida said many moons ago communication is in some sense always already mis-communication and the more online/exposed our lives get and the more our impacts on the earth grow (being in the age of the anthropocene as we are) the more urgent it is that it that we get a handle on our limits as well as our actual capacities so that we can reorganize and be more reflexive. I’ve been working on these issues since way back in the 80’s when Don Ihde and others were just inventing the philosophy of technology at my old stomping grounds at SUNY SB so much of this stuff is just at hand, takes years to get one’s footing when these things get complex so no hurries, better to do it with care I think. cheers
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

  5. Andres Ruiz

    May 27, 2013

    Hey Peter, great read. As I’m rather new to Lacan there’s not much I can do in terms of quibbling with your interpretations of him. That said, I have a few questions:

    1) You write: “If we are sending more messages to a greater number of people and doing so more quickly, what effect does this have on our communication? The time we spend on long and/or slow-paced discussions is in general reduced. Perhaps we are also moving towards a norm of fewer closer relationships and more causal ones. But most clearly we are simplifying our messages.”

    Now, this might be true for society at large, but it doesn’t seem to sound right in my experience. First, what do we know about the shape communication took before the advent of these kinds of technologies? Has there been sociological research done in the amount of time spent talking to people compared to pre-internet times? Perhaps one reason for the shortened length of conversation has to do with our ability to spread out an argument or general conversation among different mediums. There have been several times when a friend and I would start some kind of dispute on Facebook and ended it with a “let’s continue this conversation over beer”. The argument started in the virtual medium and migrated to a one on one conversation. The face to face interaction might be shorter, but the entirety of the interaction was quite lengthy, wouldn’t you say?

    If we factor in the fact that most of us get our “tidbits” of information about other people’s lives through mediums like Facebook, we come to see that the reason some conversations may be shorter is because prior to these technologies you probably wouldn’t see certain individuals every day, thus whenever you struck up a conversation you had much more to say to each other because you had to recount the details of your past activities, details they weren’t privy to. But if we consider a medium like Facebook to be something like one large conversation going on all the time, is it particularly true that my interactions with you are shorter than they were before, even though I “see” what you’re up to on a daily basis? Wouldn’t it be fair to say that perhaps we interact with one another even *more* than before via status updates, “liking”, commenting, sharing music videos with one another, and the like?

    Another question I have is about this:
    “Perhaps we are also moving towards a norm of fewer closer relationships and more causal ones.”

    I’m not sure about this, and this might be something where a wealth of sociological research might exist.
    I’ve met several friends online whom I consider special and as “real” friends as every day people in front of me. Social media has allowed me to find people with interests similar to mine from all over the world and build relationships and friendships with them that I otherwise would not have. It’s very hard to know what the answer to the counter-factual “in the absence of social media, how many close friends would I have?”; that world would have to be so radically different from ours that I’m just not sure we can make claims about it very reliably unless we extrapolate from the past, which again is where sociology could be rather helpful.

    On to my question, you write:

    “What is the complexity that is blocked by the symbolic? It is the Real. Lacan insists that it is because the Real is “extremely complex” that it is “incomprehensible”.xv Let us place this in the context of the register theory. The imaginary is prior to the symbolic: first the Real is ‘carved up’ into images, and then in a second movement, the images are carved up into linguistic symbols. This second ‘carving’ nails down the images, giving them a ‘value’ in Saussure’s sense.”

    Can I ask for a clarification here? How does the above differ from something along the lines of:

    There is a mind-independent external reality; the way we access that is via our senses, there is an object out there that creates the sense data of a tree; so whenever we perceive that particular bit of sense data we give it a name.

    Would the Real here simply be external reality, the images being the sense data, and the linguistic symbols being simply the names we give to sense data? If so, how is this different from something like, say, Kripke’s causal theory of reference?

    Great piece, I’ve finally read something that incorporates Lacan that I didn’t hate, and if you seem to find value in his writings then I might eventually have to invest the time to work my way through it as well.

    • Profile photo of Wayne Schroeder

      Wayne Schroeder

      May 28, 2013

      Andres
      Until Peter can better clarify, the Real in Lacan is not what we take for the real world, but more in line with the unconscious. The closest to the world for Lacan is the Symbolic, since that is the domain of signs and how we thus interact with the world. The Symbolic introduces “a cut in the Real” in the process of signification: “it is the world of words that creates the world of things.” The Real is structure without content, the unsignifiable, the unbroken and undifferentiated which drives and underlies all the rest–“the object of anxiety par excellence.”

    • Profile photo of Peter Hardy

      Peter Hardy

      May 29, 2013

      Although Wayne’s reply about the Real might be a bit condensed, I don’t have anything more to add (other than footnote iv) without writing at length.

      “Has there been sociological research done in the amount of time spent talking to people compared to pre-internet times?” – It’s not so pertinent a question that I’d be sure there would had been, no. All I’m claiming is that as one’s free time is finite, maintaining contact with a larger/wider range of people will tend towards the reduction depth/quality. That’s assuming that the amount of time we spend talking to others has stayed roughly the same. It could be that with social media most people are spending significantly highly proportion of their time in communication with others than they used to. But that has not been the my experience.

      “Perhaps one reason for the shortened length of conversation has to do with our ability to spread out an argument or general conversation among different mediums.” – That is a very important ability and one which I did not reflect upon. On a related note, it is true that internet forums have made it easier for us to have discussions which we can ‘park’ and return to whenever we want. And in this sense, longer, slower paced deliberation can become more efficient. Why did I make remarks to the opposite affect in the article?- Because I don’t personally think that more than a small minority avail themselves of this in practice.

      “Wouldn’t it be fair to say that perhaps we interact with one another even *more* than before via status updates, “liking”, commenting, sharing music videos with one another, and the like?” – Absolutely, but my point was about a decline in face to face interaction.

      • Profile photo of Peter Hardy

        Peter Hardy

        May 29, 2013

        A decline in face to face interaction is problematic if social media represents a more imposing system of language, a symbolic order, that would make the alienation by language of feelings, and indeed the subject of those feelings itself, more profound than face to face interaction does.

      • Peter Hardy

        June 1, 2013

        Andres, regarding research, I just found this article which mentions some recent studies but does not reference them. I’ve emailed the journalist so maybe I have some later.

        “For while phones help us stay connected, they also generate the need for us to divide our attention, and expectations that people will always be available and accessible to us when and as we want them to be. Unless these problems – which did not exist before the invention of these devices – are effectively managed, our relationships may be put at risk. Once couples had agreed on a few rules relating to how phones were used, their satisfaction improved. They were happier, in other words, when they were in control.”

        Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/life/blogs/citykat/connection-error-will-smartphones-break-your-heart-20130516-2jpbq.html#ixzz2Uxyj2CCp

          • dmf

            June 3, 2013

            these kinds of studies are interesting and worth understanding but this whole line of work/questioning may be leading us a bit astray in terms of what the “virtual” might have meant for Deleuze/Lacan in thinking of our lives/selves pre-wired and leave us with the going native/natural appeal that we can get back to the garden by unplugging if that makes sense?
            In a more hegelian (even to some sense heideggerain mode) mode one might think that we are simply making explicit (project-ing) aspects of our psyches in our new technologies.

          • Peter Hardy

            July 18, 2013

            I read that to mean that human nature is not so fixed that we need a Rousseau-like return to nature, we can adapt to the ongoing cybernetic transformation of our consciousness.

  6. Mark Whiley

    May 27, 2013

    A great read Peter and with which many of your observations, particularly in the context of Facebook, I can relate to. Whilst I haven’t been in academic circles for a while now, working in social media and SEO, I have read many recent articles concerning the anti-social nature of traditional social networks and how they are changing our behaviour in physical conversation.

    It is interesting to see amongst younger demographics the recent move away from Facebook, whilst photo sharing apps such as Instagram and Snapchat have seen dramatic up instead. I think many younger users see the pitfalls of certain social networks in terms of privacy and are looking now with fresh eyes at where these social networks fit in with their lives.

    The first generation of Myspace and then Facebook users saw the networks as a place to put their identity online and began to live through them. As we head full throttle towards a cloud based computing nirvana (ala Steve Jobs), we’ll probably see more social networks becoming share spaces, rather than places to have your avatar and live out your life.

  7. Sean Oakley

    June 3, 2013

    Excellent piece, loved the little jibe that few who bathe less than a week are easy to get along with lol. Always good to slip in humour. On the subject itself, I’m of the opinion that these sorts of discussions still have a lot of ground to cover simply because exponential technological growth and how itt affects social media (as much as anything else of course) means we might not truly understand its implications for decades to come.

  8. Shane

    June 5, 2013

    Thanks, Peter.

    I find myself drawn to think about communication with the mother of my children “H”, someone I have known for 16 years, compared to someone I am meeting via message or email. There is a richness, a history, basically a context between “H” and I. Example, if I say to “H”, I’m in my car, she may not know where or with who ect., but she at least knows I’m in my old green Volvo. Someone I don’t know may think I’ve got a fancy car. If I say to “H” I’m in Tahoe, she won’t know how I’m feeling there, but she will know its a place that we shared a great hike. Language is incomplete with someone I know well and it’s rudimentary with someone I’ve never met. -just some quick thoughts.

    • Peter Hardy

      July 18, 2013

      Hi Shane, just seen this. Thanks for the examples, they vividly illustrate the importance of context.

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  1. Virtual Insanity: Social Media with Jacques Lacan, Pt. 1 | Vibrant Bliss06-24-13