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.


Sukhmani Khorana said...

Hi, I like this post because of its academic spin on narcissism. In any case, I would like to include a link to your blog on mine. I'm currently doing a PhD project on Deepa Mehta's film trilogy and have also taught an undergraduate course on digital media.

jesika said...

social networking sites bring out my inner sleuth. i love how i'm able to recognize fights, crushes and loneliness through a cursory scan of a friend/stranger's page. what are your thoughts on the differences between myspace and facebook? for me, the facebook culture of narcissism is less satisfying than myspace was in its prime. myspace profiles pics were a tawdry guilty pleasure. you can practically taste the striving!

Said Kassem Hamideh said...

Funny. I was thinking about differences between MySpace and Facebook this morning. I was wondering if MySpace may be finding it hard to monetize its value since it more difficult for companies to distill advertising information out of the way MySpacers present themselves. There is too much irony and bizzare shit going on in MySpace that can be rendered into solid demographic statistics. On facebook, on the other hand, very few are creating ironic profiles, or pretending to be someone else. It seems that almost every feature on Facebook is designed to distill real information about users. If Myspace is a canvass one can paint on, then Facebook is a form you fill out.