Archive for April, 2015
I upload statistics from these devices, have contacts on the websites; I send and receive ‘kudos’ for my activities and I find this very motivating. Sadly, if I forget to wear any of these tracking tools, I don’t feel like putting much effort into my day, as I feel there is no point.
These devices provide some kind of account of our lives; an account that we influence. This is how the devices work to get us fit; they encourage us. They show us graphs, we can look at our progress and compare our selves to others as well.
One of my students said she also wears a pedometer and that in the evenings she would throw her pedometer repeatedly in the air in order to register additional steps so that her online profile would be more impressive. Obviously I think it’s quite funny that my student does this and it’s also quite ridiculous that I don’t feel like putting in effort unless what I do is recorded.
It is as if the narrative of our lives becomes more important than what we actually do. That we want the account to look good and we lose interest in the original experience. The virtual representations of what we do have a resonance, a power that I think many of us are seduced by. This way of regarding the stats is no different to the way we might photoshop an image of ourselves, or only choose to share flattering shots. We like to look back at these stories of our lives and we smooth the edges of them, crafting them into something we want to look at and for others to share in.
Crystal Abidin was super interesting, talking about the way a Singaporean politician has curated an online self in order to promote himself. The way he does this, involving others to tweet about him (etc) reminded me of the paper Jill Walker wrote many years ago on Distributed Narrative. This idea of encouraging others to write about you in order to endorse a particular presence is obviously risky but great if it works.
As luck would have it, Jill was also presenting and talked about Selfies not just in terms of the image, but also in terms of what you write about yourself and how we collect statistics of ourselves all the time. As an avid fitbit user, etc etc I was very interested in this idea and grateful for the ‘permission’ to think about Selfies in a broader way. Jill’s new book gives more detail. I ordered it from my iPad while listening and received it the next day. Nice.
Fascinating stuff also about Selfies as political work and to think about Selfies not just as superficial vanity projects is important. They are usually more than this. In this respect we saw images of Israeli soldiers who had made Selfies of themselves endorsing gruesome acts of aggression against Gazan people. Adi Kuntsman described the making of Selfies as a deeply political act, as acts of performance.
Finally, Simon Faulkner, also focusing on Israel and Gaza talked about the Selfie as protest and the way people have started using text on placards in their images. I have seen this a lot lately, even in videos and wonder why people use this format. It does draw you in quite intensely.
A really great day which has inspired me, after three years, to blog again. (It does take ages though).