Facebook continuously rolls back user privacy, the policy itself is increasingly convoluted, and technical hiccups have revealed users’ information – so, shouldn’t we be experiencing Facebook fatigue by now? (as PJ Rey predicted)
Sure, techno-pundits are crying foul, but Facebook users are not leaving the service in large numbers, and other technologies of narcissism -such as Formspring– continue to march along. Why?
While we know well how to become scared about decreasing privacy -and rightly so- we have only begun to articulate what increasing publicity means. I have described the will to document ourselves across the web as a new sort of “mass exhibitionism.” And while we all care deeply about privacy, this cultural impulse to live in public often wins out (often to the detriment of those most vulnerable).
Take, for example, the most recent social networking phenom, Formspring, where users answer questions about themselves that are often asked anonymously. The site has taken a dark turn. Rampant with verbal attacks, the site has already been connected to a suicide. Danah boyd often uses her expertise to dispel social media fear-mongering, so it says something when she describes the site this way:
“While teens have always asked each other crass and mean-spirited questions, this has become so pervasive on Formspring so as to define what participation there means.”
She goes on to ask,
“[w]hat is it about today’s cultural dynamics that encourages teens to not only act tough when they’re attacked but to actively share the attacks of others as a marker of toughness pride?”
I believe the answer to this question is that mass exhibitionism is simply a more powerful cultural force than even preserving oneself from cyber-attacks. Why?
The logic is just the same as what advertisers have long since come to terms with: bad publicity is better than no publicity at all.
To document oneself online is to exist. We create ourselves as product becuase what is worse than being made fun of is to not exist to begin with. Bad mass exhibitionism has come to seem better than no exhibitionism at all. ~nathanjurgenson.com