Cyberculting

A blog about Cyberculture and ICTs.

I love myself

Posted by candacewhitehead on July 24, 2008

Yes, I know it’s late, and I’ve been a very bad blogger. But I have returned from my hiatus, and am back!

 

In our lecture today, our lecturer used the term “digital narcissism”, which has become a huge part of not only cyberculture, but day-to-day culture too.

 

I have a Facebook page, a MySpace page and a Twitter account, just for starters. Three things that are all about me. Photos of me, notes written by me, what I did for the weekend, what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling. All about ME. Not you, not Paris Hilton or Brangelina. My friends can write on my wall about how great I am (I delete the posts that say I’m a loser or whatever), they can all rave about something cool that we did together. I’m a celebrity.

 

YouTube’s slogan is “Broadcast Yourself”, as Andrew Keen, author of “The Cult of the Amateur” points out. And, as he writes, the new thing on YouTube is people broadcasting themselves watching other people on YouTube broadcasting themselves and… well, it’s potentially endless, really. And not very exciting.

 

Think about the abundance of people with webcams, who stream their daily activities (pornographic or otherwise) twenty four hours a day. I’ve never been one for watching somebody paint their toenails, but people do. Voyeuristic types feed other people’s narcissism.

 

Keen, it appears, has decided that the mere idea that anyone can change the face of media by publishing their thoughts is destroying our culture. According an article published on the Guardian.co.uk, Enough!, Keen feels that we don’t need the opinions of the majority of the people online, and that it destroys the credibility and the professionalism of journalism and the media. Ironically, of course, he writes this on his blog.  

 

He does, however, have a good point: people would rather broadcast themselves rather than listen to what other people have to say. I do not think this is restricted to digital narcissism, however. Many people are like that – listen to yourself speaking in conversation and see how many instances there are a day where you change the subject or try to interrupt to make yourself heard. It’s human nature.

 

However, in a world where people Google themselves to see what’s been written about them, and where over 90 million people have a Facebook page as effectively shrines to themselves, it’s a lot easier, and a lot more acceptable, to be a lot more narcissistic.

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5 Responses to “I love myself”

  1. Dan Clark said

    You know, I never really thought of Facebook or Myspace as digital narcissism. It’s really interesting to think about. I never realized that in fact, those accounts are all about me.

    I agree though, that it’s become ridiculous. Live streams of people checking their myspace – there’s a double dose of narcissism.

    Once, my ex asked me to get on webcam, and I tried to start a conversation. He typed to me over IM that he doesn’t talk on webcam. I came to find out that actually a lot of people don’t talk on webcam. How ridiculous is that?

  2. candacewhitehead said

    The whole thing makes me think of goldfish in a bowl, to be quite honest. They’re not particularly fun to watch, but you will – cause they’re there!

    I’ve never been a fan of webcams myself… but that might be because I’m slightly cameraphobic! But if I ever bought a webcam, it would be so that I could chat face-to-face with people far away. Although unfortunately in South Africa now that’s a slightly expensive undertaking!

    Apparently some dude hanged himself with his webcam broadcasting… that must have been the most disconcerting thing to watch! But would that be narcissism or a cry for help?

  3. lindseyberry said

    So true! We are more than just a little self obsessed. The name ‘I’Pod and the incredibly popular insular mode of listening says it all for me in terms of our generation’s tendency towards ‘I’-ness 🙂

  4. kelescheppers said

    It’s true you know. The main person I check on Facebook is myself. If you check out emode.com, you’ll find online tests that are all about you. I guess it’s a new way of soul-searching. It may also just be a sign of a generation with too much time on their hands. We need a hobby Generation Z.

    About the dude who hung himself with his webcam broadcasting, where can you download that? Wait, just found it on youtube… interesting. It’s a virtual red flag from the Maker’s of Digital Jackass… don’t try this at home kids.

  5. Keen raises ideas that harken unto the Frankfurt School of the early thirties who claimed that the popular mass media would dilute and destroy organic cultures. His conception doesn’t take into account of culture (as of neccessity being a dynamic and ever transforming phenomenon). Instead value based judgments are used to suggest that there was a golden age that we should return to because new media technologies and forms of communication are driving us to the brink. Sure there are problems with the rise of me-centric networks and consumer driven culture, digital divides and intellectual property theft – but the spaces that are created are also opening up possibiities for ensuring the continued survival of a plurality of social groups and subcultures that were frequently marginalised in the previous epoch – certainly greater and faster than any wave of media before it.

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