Friday, 23 August 2013

The Reality of Virtuality

Narratives have been a significant part of human history for as long as we existed. Telling stories, through oral or written language, have shaped and continued cultures through time, served as entertaining and as informants.  Although the format of these narratives may have shifted over time, they still remain significant in our society.
The Australian Aboriginal outlook on the world and mankind is “shaped by a remarkable concept”, a narrative called The Dreaming, an oral narrative (Stanner, 1979, p.23). As identified by Chatwin (1987) to “understand the concept of the Dreaming you have to understand it as an Aboriginal equivalence of the first two chapters of Genesis…”. This shows how significant this narrative has been and still is in Aboriginal beliefs.

Self-narratives have become more and more popular as we shift to a more “me” focused and technological society.  Van Luyn (2013) suggests that like maps, self-narratives are “constructs for a particular purpose and context.”  My network in focus (Facebook) is primarily about sharing self-narratives with one another yet as Van Luyn (2013) identifies, “In a virtual network, you are not the only person constructing your identity,” as, “’… the software itself and other people are producing your online self.”  When you are constructing or editing your “About Me” section on Facebook, the format of the software dictates to the individual as to what is important for others to know about you. They prioritise things such as favourite movies, music, your relationship status, your education and workplace and this in turns shapes how we portray ourselves.
In a virtual network such as Facebook, our self-narratives are not only shaped by the software but by the people who we are friends with. McNeill (2012) noted that “users’ identities emerge in relation to those of their friends, with the activities and appearance of those friends affecting users' impressions of them” (p. 108). When writing statuses, people are aware of what those around them are doing and writing about and tend to write about things that will get them the most ‘likes’. It has become so important to people to have others ‘like’ their statuses that others even write blogs such as Patel’s ‘TheArt of Writing Great Facebook Status Updates’ to inform people how to write good statuses that others will like.


1 comment:

  1. It was very interesting reading you blog, as you discussed self-narrative as it is shared by Facebook users and how a user’s identity is constructed on this network. Especially when you discussed the software’s involvement and how it dictates what is important about a user’s personality, by collecting data on a user’s interests, hobbies, relationship status, and beliefs, ‘Facebook insists such things matter in the constructions of identity’ (McNeill 2012). It was also interesting how you incorporated aboriginal Songlines and the concept of The Dreaming, as you discussed narratives, and how they have become more popular in a technologically advanced society. Also, you noted that Facebook users have a tendency to make posts related to popular subject matter, in the hope of gaining ‘likes’, which to me also shapes the identity of a Facebook user. If I had one sight nit-pick about you blog, it would be to introduce Facebook earlier, but overall you blog was great.

    McNeill, L. (2012). There is no “I” in network: Social networking sites and post human auto-biography. In Biography, 35(1), 101-118.