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A Blog About Culture

Recognition, Situation, Identity, Reality

This entry comes in three segments, the first of which was conceived in some kind of delusional state of mind that comes from being on an overnight flight and having no idea what time it is. I had been writing a paper for a class, but decided to shut my eyes and let my mind wander after having realized that I’d been writing idiotically at the equivalent of 4:30 am EST.

I began thinking about literary theory, of all things, not because I’m wildly intellectual or anything, but because I’ve a friend studying it in London. My stream-of-consciousness took me to Roland Barthes’ S/Z, and I remembered a time that I’d posted a line of Honoré de Balzac’s “Sarrasine” to my Facebook.

And, standing on the borderland of those two incongruous pictures, which repeated thousands of times in diverse ways… I played a mental macedoine, half jesting, half funereal.

That’s what this entry is about. Posting things to Facebook. In a sense, we’re not necessarily even wholly original anymore (you might say duh to that). What we become, or at least what our online personas become, are collages of millions of other influences. A song lyric that might have some kind of significance, whether it’s how I was feeling that day or just in my head. A funny clip of some cats running around might say something about me. The aggregate of all these snippets becomes who I am, especially to people whom I know only casually.

  • What motivates us to post to the online world?
  • How do our actions affect others’ assumptions?

Here’s part two of the entry. An experiment. An exercise in assumption and impression, whether those things matter to you or not. I’m not sure that they do, but I’m also not sure of the line between being and seeming either.

Think of the last thing you posted. The last status update.

  • Why did you choose to post it?
  • Why did you choose those words?
  • What were you hoping to achieve? Did you expect or hope for any responses?
  • How does it reflect who you are?
  • Do you think that reflection matches who you think you are?

When I posted the line from “Sarrasine,” I think I recognized to some degree that it was to seem thoughtful and bookish. But also, and I’m kind of embarrassed to say this, it was also to impress a guy. I didn’t need or want or expect for him to respond or even to “Like” it. But just the possibility that other people saw it and for a second associated me with those words was enough.

The big question then is:

Who are we in reality?

I guess one could say that all we are is the same pastiche, but only of cultural influences instead of Tourette’s Guy and dancing cats. In some ways, the line from “Sarrasine,” especially taken out of context, I felt did fit my life in some kind of recognition that, “Yeah, that’s me.”

I’d like to note that I have no problem with social media. A lot of people dislike social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and they claim that others spend too much of their time posting too much personal information, pictures, and statuses all the time. I think it’s fine for people to do that. The constant sharing of information is a culture that’s gaining strength nowadays. People can participate in it or not. In terms of my own personal life, I tend to have a medium-level of online activity. I post pictures. I post status updates sometimes,  usually inside jokes, song lyrics, or holiday wishes. My interest in this post is more about the nature of reality than subject matter. Or maybe it’s about that too.

(The third part of this entry is the inevitable “E-I-E-I-O” of Old MacDonald fame that was bound to be stuck in somebody’s head.)

Read the reference: “Sarrasine,” by Honoré  de Balzac. (Project Gutenberg)

Read the reference: S/Z, by Roland Barthes. (Google Book preview)


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