Law in the Internet Society
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The self-made identity lie

-- By NataliaNegret - 22 Oct 2021

Being conscious

My self-made identity has recently puzzled me. The "self-made self" is a problem common to those who, like me, grew up tightened to social media. It is self-made because we post in our virtual canvas what we purposely and consciously decide to post. We exclude from those posts our negative emotions (at least most of us do), our health crisis, our routinary activities. The content worthy of posting relates to our social life (in restaurants, parties, and clubs), our trips, pets, and hobbies (exercising, cooking, and snapping pictures of an Agnes Martin in the Whitney). In the end, we post what we own: our time.

The questions and the preliminary answers

My reflection started when I realized that I had opened my hobbies, friendships, and family to acquaintances, classmates, and random people I've met once or twice. In this opening, they have access to my library, my siblings, my random walks in the park because I allow them to. They know I like Agnes Martin and Borges because I share paintings and quotes. They know if I cut my hair if I take a plane.

I believe "my followers" wouldn't describe me as an over-poster. I take my role as content curator of my virtual life seriously. In other words, I waste my time curating the life I want to share. And I curate for whom? That's the question worth asking. It might be for those who benefit from my engagement (social media platforms, stores, advertisement), those who follow me and want a glimpse of my life, the other parts of me who want to remain in the dark. The paradox here is that every time I feed my virtual profile, I'm depriving myself of the ability to keep things private.

And I ask myself: What is the purpose of keeping things private? It buys you time to reflect, think and create. Privacy protects how the piece of information about you has been obtained. In Marmor's words: "it is about the how, not the what, that is known about you". The latter, as "our ability to control the ways in which we present ourselves to others is inherently limited". From that stance, privacy gives us time, and therefore protects time, on when to disclose or reveal something. The underlying issue with social media is that we are the curators of our profiles, and in that filtration journey, we lost our ability to choose how our time (and life) is being used.

A waste of time and a waste of rights

Feeding the profiles consumes time. We post because the likes, comments, and virtual interactions affirm or reinforce the virtual being we choose to share with our selected community. We believe we have control over what and who we share. Still, the reality is that every click diminishes freedom, extinguishes privacy, and deprives us of the only thing we own: time. The outcome is our inability to reflect and pause because our consciousness of time is limited by immediacy, neediness, and over-exposure. And the worst part is that the idea of being infinite humans, in the microcosmic stance, is vanished by the constant of self-reinvention instead of self-expansion.

One step away from Nirvana

Humanity has dealt with the eternity/infinity question since we began to articulate ideas. The question about being eternal is related to the aim of self-expanding. The latter, as our nature has always been limited by time. We start to die the day we are born. To overcome this fatality, people used to write, paint, have children, and teach. Today, to be remembered, "eternal," we rely on a third party that might shut down, or shut or profile down, and drags all our posted "memories" with it. I'm not saying the futilities I see, and post on social media are worth being eternal; I aim to reflect on the fact that our approach to eternity is rotten.

Life's worth knowing about were imagined, created, and transmitted. The character had an incidence on what was being said about him, but he did not have the chance to curate the life he wanted to share. To lay down this, I want to recall when Don Quixote found out, in his conversation with Sansón Carrasco, that his adventures were a topic of discussion among the students at the University of Salamanca. For him, being public, discussed, and remembered was an outcome, not a decisive purpose. He didn't act to be a topic. By the course of his actions, he became a character and, as a result, a subject of discussion. The lions, the windmills, and the galley slaves' adventures were public, and some read those actions as insanity, others as geniality. Today, we aim to control with the curating process our self-made online identity and, in general, how the public reads our actions.

Final thoughts

As stated before, relying on Marmor is unlikely to impose our view on how others read our self-made identity. Moreover, this desire for control shows that our aim to be remembered is vague because we rely solely on feeding our virtual profiles. The drive to be recognized, which might take the name of immortality, eternity, was a dream worth living before social media created identities. The verbs to share and post, which are the core of the interactions on the platforms, withered integration, insertion, and social construction. We handed our privacy in exchange for a fake sense of control. We handed our time, memories, and the idea of integrity in exchange for a self-made identity that lacks authenticity and freedom.

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r1 - 22 Oct 2021 - 20:41:39 - NataliaNegret
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