Social networks like Facebook are also reflective media, but the image of us that they return, insistently, is very different from the one presented by the glass. What’s reflected by the network is not the part of the self “that one can divorce from … the influential presence of other men.” Rather, it is the part of the self that one cannot divorce from the social milieu. It is, in that sense, more “mythical” than physical. We project an idealized version of the self, formed for social consumption, and the reflection we receive, continually updated, reveals how the image was actually interpreted by society. We can then adjust the projection in response to the reflection, in hopes of bringing the reflection closer to the projected ideal. And so it goes.
This feels like a more thorough and smarter way of saying what everyone already says and knows: Facebook is a tool for self-idealization and -curation.
I’m liking Nicholas Carr’s doomsaying blog Rough Type a lot these days. I like the courage of writing on the Internet about the dangers of the Internet’s increasing absorption into our lives and selves. This contrarian wonder is bookmark-worthy.