I initially posted this work (Self-Portrait With Mobile Device) directly on my Flickr account when I had completed it, right from my phone, I was in such a rush to put it “out there.” It’s taken me a while to decide where to include it among my blogs. While it is a self-portrait, it’s also a fictional work and commentary, and could therefore fit comfortably on my photography blog. However, in the end I decided it’d belong best in Every Thursday. This because I have already written about, via previous postings, my struggle with social networks. And because I made this particular work to draw attention to issues that are bothering me about the online world and its reality for me (though I don’t think I’m alone in my thoughts). Since I feel so strongly about these issues, I’m leaning toward making a series of works about them – that is, if I can sustain the energy to do so, before I get entirely disgusted and drop everything to withdraw to a great distance. Actually, I already started on this reflective path some time ago, via a submission of images to a contest I was encouraged to enter. These images were also posted on Flickr. (yes I need to get all my work in one place one day)
While the five images I initially posted on Flickr (Five Internet People) were about generic personalities, corresponding to the medieval “humors,” this work is more about how I see myself as an online persona, and how being this persona feels to me, and how it affects me psychologically overall. Remember that before the internet, our other “personas” were in real life. Now we have a partial persona, limited to the written word, an image, and sometimes a voice and/or video. How does this additional persona differ from our real life personas? And how does it affect us differently from the others? What perspective and view is it giving us of ourselves? How do others respond to it? How do we respond to that of others? Is it similar or very different from our views of our other personas (roles)? How do the companies which host this persona affect it?
What is most important to me is the last question, because unlike personas created through private correspondence or phone calls, companies which host us as personas in a social network have an active hand in them, often disguised. This is achieved through how they design their networks, and how they control and manipulate what happens in them. It’s not unlike any institution in that sense, but the difference is the illusion that they are not involved. As a student, you know the rules of behavior in a classroom. You hear them, you see them, you read them. This is not the case on the internet.
More down the road…