Mobile gadgets, Web 2.0 apps and social networks and other recent developments have made mediation more and more immediate. We verge closer to the ideal of real-time redistribution of the self, which makes the grounds for potential sympathizing — sharing — increasingly synonymous with digital dissemination. With real-time as the horizon, the time frame over which our narratives of personal identity need to span in our imagination necessarily shrinks to the vanishing point. The idea that we must posit a long-term identity disappears. We are left to build a self out of a pile of discrete, discontinuous moments, all concretized by our increasingly frantic gestures of self-publication — the status updates and shared photos and tweets and text messages and check-ins of contemporary life. This is now what it means to be free to become who we are.
As Horning is talking here, in his infinite wisdom about current cultural attitudes, lets face it, around the world, I realize that these types of interactions, via technological means have actually replaced the ability to actually be surprised, feel empathy for others or to tell someone, in person, in a genuine tone, that you like their pictures, you find their conversation stimulating, you enjoy the way they crinkle their nose when you say something funny, or even that you appreciate the eye contact that you make during an everyday conversation that just wouldn’t happen via the internet.
Going a bit further, he takes it to the next level:
The immediacy of constant presence on digital networks allows us to regard these acts of sharing as moments of sympathy in Smith’s sense of the word, a conjuring of reciprocity in the act of positing an audience for our self-publication. Each gesture of sharing is an sets the stage. We can repost an image of what we are in the midst of experiencing to a social network instantaneously, capturing our sense of self as it is situated in that moment and permitting us to imagine the sympathetic reinforcement of that self, whether or not anyone responds — whether anyone comments or clicks to “like” it. And scanning the updates others have shared in a spare moment allows us to complete the circuit of sympathy, as we empathize on our own schedule with the packaged intimate glimpses of self that others have thought to broadcast.
Do people feel bad when no one “likes” their status update? Picture? Note or video? News article, etc. Or perhaps, this is why there is no “dislike” button to push. It’s a strange world, because we seem to be able to function outside of some kind of reality, as if, the person in the picture isn’t actually me, but some version of me that I want to present to those viewing it.
How do we justify our online self/existence? And when will it become too much.