Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Networked Identity and Narcissism

Today I may have figured out why it is that I constantly check and recheck my Myspace and Facebook profiles even though I already possess a crystal clear image of what they contain.

It's starts by clicking on your friend's profile. Then you click on one of their friends. After a while, you become an anthropologist of your own network, searching for patterns of social tribalism along various geographical and demographical axes.

Once I clicked to the point where I was now about 7 degrees away from my own profile, but I was still snooping around the profile pages of people in my area that all looked and expressed themselves in similar ways.

I thought the reason I always capped off this "friend research" with the strongest curiosity reserved for my own profile was because of the Narcissus in me. But by all indications, it now seems that I am a much more sophisticated narcissist than previously understood.

See, my profiles offer a different reading each time they are contemplated within a different context of human networks, each one casting unique hues onto my self-constructed online identity. There is the Said relative to the hipsters, the Said relative to the cybergeeks and the Arabists.

I belong, then, to the narcissisti who not only gaze at their own reflection, but who seek to capture every impression that every angle of the sun provides.