Embodiment and FB Politics

Though locative technologies have been on the rise for past decade or so, I’ve been rather wary of adopting them as they may infringe on privacy and, honestly, the idea of someone always knowing where I am sort of creeps me out. All the same, after reading Farman’s Mobile Interface Theory, I noted that locative features now weren’t as much an invasion of privacy, but a way of connecting with others through the means of embodiment.

StalkerCat-541x385    Togetherness - 1 Corinthians 1 verse 10

Based on his framework, I thought this notion of locative media applied in some respects to my final project in one primary way: how the idea of embodiment in an extended application by the user influences the language they use with others.

Farman emphasizes the concept of embodiment as a sensory inscription that is “always a spatial practice” (19). In specific concern to SMS, he notes that with locative media, the user embraces the mindset of converting “myself into another and another into myself” (64). From the research I’ve conducted thus far, it seems that FB users discussing a candidate’s speech, policy, or mere presence, initially engaged in dialogue to convert “another into myself,” however, when these attempts are thwarted by argumentative users, they seemed to negate and ignore the notion of converting “myself into another.” What’s interesting though, and I think contributes to the polemical rhetoric in conversation, is the extended embodiment that FB users may feel due to their actual information that the interface includes. For example, some of the technologies Farman discusses seems to only or primarily link the user to a location and vice versa; however, FB extends beyond that to further establish the user’s embodiment in the digital space. Because of that, I’m curious how the extended application of embodiment influences the way the user views themselves in relation to those they engage with in online environments.

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3 Comments

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  1. Hi Lacy,
    First of all, I hope your feeling better, allergies and pink eye sounds terrible. To return to your post, I really appreciated your analysis and critique of Farman’s discussion of social media and embodiment. Your post left me thinking about ways in which platforms like Facebook seek to develop topoi’s (which I just learned is a rhetorical device to establish a common place in an interaction). If you think about it, Facebook is always developing topoi’s between you and other users based on location and interests. Being out in the West, I’m far more likely (or I was when I had Facebook) to have information on my newsfeed from everyone I was friends with in Pullman as opposed to all of my friends in Michigan. Only the profiles back home that I consistently viewed made it onto my newsfeed, the rest generated mainly by location-based posts. I know this is in regards to the filter bubble and algorithms, but it makes me wonder about how filter bubbles and algorithms are developed with considerations of topoi’s and aims to embody its users in ways that don’t differentiate between “actual” vs “virtual” (Farman argues we can’t view them as separate). Interesting stuff. Great post! Love the cat picture.

    Lucy

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  2. Also, the time is way off on this thing! My comment was left at 8:40 on April 18th. I am definitely NEVER up at 3:40AM (especially on a Sunday) !!

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  3. Lacy,

    Your blog entry, namely your reference to “converting ‘myself into another,'” made me think a great deal about the features, filters, and affordances that Facebook makes available to users. I am particularly intrigued by the ways in which one can remain “friends” with another profile, yet block their posts from appearing on your news feed as well as filter them out as a recipient of the posts that you compose. In light of what you’re saying here about one’s capacity (or incapacity) to covert another and the ways in which attitudes change dramatically based on this outcome, these features, filters, and affordances take on a whole different character. While it would be virtually impossible (and maddening) to really quantify how and why users take advantage of all of this in terms of your subject area with the rhetoric surrounding presidential elections on a site like Facebook, this context serves as an interesting wrinkle in the questions that you’re posing here. Thank you so much for sharing all of this!

    Mark

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