Playing With & For The Community
Teo Wen Jia
Every iridescent morning, you wake up, not to the sounds of birds, not to the sight of the rising sun, but rather to a harmless-looking device that sits comfortably on your bedside table: your smart phone, your right-hand man, core of your life, and your inseparable half.
Our hands are no longer seen as apparatuses of labour. Our fingers have essentially become the centre of attention, flying across keyboards, thumbs scoring minute keypads. Most people seem fairly capable of managing and keeping up with technology. What slips by is how they allocate an inordinate amount of time to it, syncing themselves with a consistent rhythm of media updates. The appetite for media feeds and news is insatiable. New social networking portals sprout and demand an enthusiastic audience that willingly obliges their participation in the creation, and re-creation, of social profiles that are ready within minutes. The speed and convenience of one’s involvement is a signifier of one’s representation. In fact, it is possibly and arguably the only representation that is made to seem worth any person’s time in this day and age: our Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Livejournal, Myspace.
The time we take to create a profile, or write off someone else’s, is equivalent to a toilet break. Within minutes, you are able to conclude if a woman is the girl of your dreams or someone not worth your time.
Our identities have been shrunk to an online space that is further separated into a multitude of sectioned likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc. How did writing about oneself become such a simplistic task?
As a consumer of social media, I am acutely aware of what captures the attention of a social user as well as what deserves to be auto-tuned and cast away. It is not just about writing about your ‘self’—there is the element of an assumed audience. There is the need to infuse entertainment value in everything you create. Writing about oneself becomes simplistic as you portray a self that you have envisioned to be interesting and worth looking at. This bears on the edge of portraying a fictional character. We witness our multiplying ‘self’, where these personas never-ending churn-outs serve to accommodate the influx of people we come into social contact with. Social media advocates constant connection. Perhaps, that’s the problem; constantly portraying oneself further blurs the lines of reality and fiction.
Social media turns us socially detrimental towards ourselves. At the end of the day, close captioning and typing out your profile in black-and-white ironically affirms the greyness of your ‘self’.
‘Multiphrenia’, coined by sociologist Kenneth Gergen, sums this condition of the self; the inability to know what we really are.
This begets the question: at what point did media start fractioning the self instead of being complementary?
#2 in a series of written perspectives on how the urban and the body manifest in the other, in a running accompaniment to the visual art exhibition called, well, urban body. Nine artists will present visual provocations—in a bid to expose and make tangible the cityscapes of our formed selves.
A published compilation of both art and essay will be available at the exhibition.
urban body opens on 2 august 2012. For details and updates, check out the event page on facebook.
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