In October, Facebook began offering a paid promotion option to its users. This gave users the opportunity to pay money for their pictures and status updates to gain greater visibility. Now, Facebook expands this option further by offering the opportunity for users to pay to promote their Friend’s posts.
Fist, this reminds us that Facebook is a for-profit company, currently struggling to project an external image of profitability. The introduction of pay-to-use features, including promoted posts and “Facebook gifts” has been less than lucrative for the company. *True confession: I don’t even know how to give someone a Facebook Gift, nor am I inclined to figure it out.* Facebook is supposed to be free, and while users continue to pay in abstract ways with their prosumptive activities in general, and their personal data in particular, they do not seem keen to pay in the direct, credit card-with-expiration-date-and-3-digit-security-code, manner.
Using the Power of Sociology, however, I predict that this may change with the introduction of the new pay-to-promote feature for Friend’s posts. I say this because the new feature rectifies a particular problematic niche that continues to trouble social media users on a social-psychological level. To talk about the function of the new feature, I must begin with two competing presentational tensions within the social media landscape: The attention economy, and visible identity work. (more…)
People, I am certain, use Snapchat in myriad ways and for all kinds of reasons. Surely, people use the disappearing-message app to document juicy gossip, send goofy but not save-worthy photos, cheat on an exam, share an inside joke, engage in insider trading, or co-view a sunset in the fleeting moment in which the red-purple sky loses its light. I especially like Nathan Jurgenson’s deeply theoretical and thought provoking analysis of Snapchat in terms of image scarcity and abundance. And yet, when I think about Snapchat, my mind always goes to the same, possibly immaturity-induced, place: sexting.
Sexting, made particularly famous by such figures as Tiger Woods, and Anthony—I can’t believe this is your real name—Weiner, is the act of sending illicit images of oneself and/or erotic messages via SMS. Humans are sexual, and have long engaged the technologies of the time in their erotic practices (if you don’t believe me, read James Joyce’s pen-and-paper love letters to his wife).Despite moral panics surrounding sexting (especially among *gasp* teenagers) the problem with this phenomena has less to do with erotic communication, and more to do with the medium of erotic communication coupled with the affordances and dynamics of networked publics. Snapchat is a technological solution to the problem, but one with unique—possibly problematic in a different way—implications of its own. (more…)
I have a dear family friend. She is highly educated, happily married, a wonderful mother, and incredibly successful in her career. She has also, however, always struggled with her weight. Like many people, she tried dieting about a million times. This produced the kind of yo-yo style results which bring people to maintain several wardrobes of varying sizes. Then, about five years ago, she started journaling. She wrote down everything she ate and the approximate caloric count of each item. With this tactic, this dear family friend was, for the first time, able to maintain her desired body size.
Don’t worry; this is not a post about how to lose weight. I could write one of those, but the anti-feminist self-loathing would probably be too much for me to bear. Rather, this is a short post about self-tracking. We all know that Cyborgologist Whitney Erin Boesel (@phenatypical) is our resident expert on self-tracking however, as she makes her way from one side of the country to the other, I will pick up the self-tracking ball and talk about some recent findings from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. (more…)
Each morning, after reading the news and checking my emails, I reward myself with a quick (okay, not that quick) scroll down the Facebook News Feed. Over a peanut butter bagel and strong cup of coffee, I look at pictures, laugh at status updates, ignore political rants, and leave small traces along the way: Likes, congratulations, the occasional snarky retort. I look forward to my Facebook time. It’s the dessert portion of my morning routine. The little sugary something that warms me into my day. And yet, this is a precarious treat—one day sweet, the next lip-puckeringly tart.
I never know quite how I will feel at the end of my scroll session. Some days, I am energized, connected, warm, fuzzy, and one with the world. Other days, I feel annoyed, left out, jealous, regretful that I let that half hour slip away while others were doing something more productive, more impactful, more meaningful. Admittedly, on most days, my feelings lie between these poles in the far less dramatic realm of mild amusement or hinted anxiety. (more…)
Back in October, Nathan Jurgenson (@nathanjurgenson) created a typology of digital dualism, which I followed by mapping this typology onto material conditions that vary in terms of physical-digital enmeshment. Today, I want to apply this typology and its material-mapping to discourses and conditions of embodiment in light of technological advancements. If you have been following the blog and are up-to-date with this line of discussion, feel free to scroll down past the review. (more…)
In what follows, I attempt to diagnose the IRL Fetish, or the explicit preference of physical over digital, and in particular, the designation of the former as more “real” than the latter. Bear with me, the punch line is at the end.
I get invited to a lot of things. It’s not because I’m cool or popular—rest assured, I am not. I also get regular messages from friends offering deals on the products that they sell, such as Scentsy, MaryKay, and Tasteful Pleasures. It’s not because I’m rich or have expressed interest in these products—rest assured, I am a poor post-doc far more likely to buy new running shoes than liquefying candle wax . Rather, I receive these invitations, messages, and deals because I am part of a large Facebook network, through which information can be easily spread. And as a recipient under these circumstances, I think little of not only declining invitations and consumptive offerings, but often completely ignoring said objects with a fully clear conscience. No, I do not want any Fifty Shades of Grey Toys, nor do I want to attend an event entitled “Come Punch Me in the Face” (yes, that was an *actual* event someone invited me to), and I feel no inclination to articulate my decline, but assume that my silence implies disinterest. (more…)
This is not a typical blog post. It has far too many words–many of which are jargony– no images, and formal citations where readers would expect/prefer hyperlinks. Rather, this is a literature review. A dry recapitulation of the often formulaic work of established scholars, forged by two low-on-the-totem-pole bloggers with the hope of acceptance into the scholarly realm through professionally recognized channels–in this case, the American Sociological Association annual meetings. Nathan Jurgenson (@nathanjurgenson) and I are working to further theorize context collapse. To do so, however, we need to fully understand how the concept is being and has been used. Below we offer such an account, and ask readers to point out anything we’ve missed or perhaps misrepresented. In short, we hope to share our labors, and invite readers to tell us how we can do better.
Recognizing that this is an atypically time/energy intensive blog reading experience, I offer you, the reader, a joyous and theoretically relevant moment with George Costanza before the onslaught of text:
Science and Technology studies scholars have long understood that the physical structures and architectures of everyday life both reflect and construct human values, propensities, lines of action, and behavioral and social constraints. This was famously described by Langdon Winner with regards to the segregationist role of Robert Moses’ low bridges on the New York highway system. Recently on this blog, David Banks (@DA_Banks) wrote a beautiful essay on the technology, and technological artifacts of Troy New York. Indeed, the architectures of spaces in which we move shape how we move and reflect normative expectations about how we ought to move. (more…)
Via National Postal Museum
Most Wanted posters, having lost their long standing place at the Post Office, have found a new home on Pinterest. Following the Philadelphia Police Department, police in Pottstown PA, are now electronically pinning images of those with outstanding arrest warrants. Yes, the same place people exchange recipes and DIY home tips is increasingly also place in which police officers disseminate photographs of felons on the lam (time out: I just got to use the phrase “on the lam” in an academic-ish piece of writing. *self high-five*).
This use of Pinterest for mugshot dissemination is theoretically interesting in a number of ways. Here, I denote three key interrelated insights: (more…)
Several weeks ago, I wrote about the “fear of being missed (FOBM).” The flip side of FOMO (fear of missing out), FOBM captures the anxiety surrounding a complex and fast moving online realm in which it is easy to be buried, ignored, and/or forgotten. This anxiety is amplified by the online/offline connectedness, through which invisibility online can lead to neglect offline (personally and professionally). FOMO and FOBM speak to the difficulty of deleting social media accounts, the discomfort of a dead cell/laptop/tablet battery, and the drive to livetweet, status update, tag oneself in pictures, and be physically present for tagable photo-ops.
Soon after posting my piece on Cyborgology, I read Tiana Bucher’s article in New Media & Society about Facebook algorithms and the fear of invisibility. Bucher’s work offers a useful theoretical frame (Foucault’s Panoptican) for FOBM, and an equally good (if not better) term for the phenomena (fear of invisibility). In what follows, I describe Bucher’s piece and its utilization. I then offer critiques of her work. In this way, I hope to further the theoretical substance of FOBM, framing it with the tools suggested by Bucher, and refining it through juxtaposition to Bucher’s arguments. (more…)