Surveillance of Self

Social networks are at the very core of uberveillance and as a consequence our priorities are shifting, cleverly blurring the lines between privacy and socialization. It has become a ritualistic habit to reveal our lives to the online community, who are willing and able to survey these actions with a reciprocal judgment or label to follow. As Ariel Dorfman points out, “social media users gladly give up their liberty and privacy, invariably for the most benevolent of platitudes and reasons.”

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Have we really been to the gym if we didn’t check in with a photo or location? Did we really go to work if we didn’t post a depressing status about Monday-itis? Apparently not. Writer for Teen Vogue, Melissa Walker, says “reality has come to seem more and more like what we are shown by cameras”, what matters most is not how you see yourself but how others see your life to be via the many ways you display it in the online mediated sphere.

The ‘selfie’ for example, is a heavily appearance-focused instrument endorsing self-surveillance through promotion of an egotistical self-image which leaves things like self-discovery and spirituality to go out the window, and yet, photos that appear spiritual – #selfieswithnature:

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and quotes that sell self-discovery-ish stuff:

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flood social media feeds everywhere.

Are we over-sharing? Callie Schweitzer from Time.com declares that “so much of life is too complicated and messy and complex to be portrayed publicly” let alone correctly understood, yet it’s put out there anyway. Famous every-day Youtube Vlogger Anna Saccone even shared her child birth with her Youtube followers. Bit much don’t you think? Reality TV Star and Selfie Queen Kim Kardashian has released a book titled ‘Selfish’, ENTIRELY dedicated to photos she has taken of herself, and yes, people are actually wasting time and money to read it. Although selfies may not be the culprit in giving up important and private information to our online following, they do however, speak to this necessity of making “the self into an object of public concern (Giroux 2015).” And is this any healthier?

Is this constant monitoring and documenting of our lives just plain narcissism or is it a natural response to the world’s growing need for uberveillance and exposure? Is it a story-telling tool to show off who we are and the experiences we’ve had or a mere cry for acceptance and external gratification?

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