Friday, 23 August 2013

The Songlines of Facebook

The Songlines of Facebook

Van Luyn (2013) discussed narratives in this week’s lecture. She explained that “narratives are language dependent” and, “self-narratives, like maps, are constructs for a particular purpose and context.” But what does narratives have to do with virtual networks? A narrative on a social network like Facebook is the story you tell of yourself online. Your personal information and the things you post on Facebook begin to explain your story. The concept of ‘The Dreaming’ has been quite present in this week’s readings, and [The Dreaming] can be shown through the use of Facebook.

Stanner (1979) said, “The Dreaming is many things in one. Among them, a kind of narrative of things that once happened; a kind of charter of things that still happen; and a kind of logos or principle of order transcending everything significant for Aboriginal man.” (p 24). We can look at this in the form of Facebook’s ‘Timeline’. It is our own narrative that we have created, that other people have added to, to combine stories that show who we are. You are able to look back to when you first joined Facebook, leading to the present, to show how your story has changed,  how you have grown as a person, and how other people have influenced your life. We are not the only narrators of our Facebook profiles, as other people are able to post things on our wall and tag us in pictures and comments and vice versa. McNeill states that Facebook has “life narrators writing themselves and others” which implies that we are not the only person who is telling our own stories. Our narratives can be represented through the eyes of our fellow peers, which can only add to what we see of ourselves. Timeline is a representation of our journey through life, and through Facebook; a way we communicate our stories and allow others to follow them, much like that of a songline.

“Dreaming-tracks layover the land as ‘ways’ of communication between most far-flung tribes.” (Chatwin. 1987. p 13). If a man followed along his songline, they would be able to find other people who share the same dreaming – their ‘brothers’. On Facebook, we are able to search for friends, or find people through our own friends, which is similar to that of following a songline. By following along these searching tools, we are able to come into contact with people we went to school with or sporting event with – people who we are familiar with, much like the people who share the same dreaming, in a way. Another interesting point Chatwin makes in this chapter is “In other words, “to exist” is “to be perceived”?” (p 14). This statement occurs when the two people are discussing the land itself, saying that the land must be sung for it to exist, which is like the users of Facebook. To be seen, you have to post things on Facebook, whether that is a status, a picture, or a video; however, if you don’t, you may become invisible or inexistent to the public – to exist is to be perceived.

The Image used in this blog “Map of the World Drawn Entirely Using Facebook Connections” was drawn by Paul Butler. If you would like to know how he did this, feel free to read the small article about it at:


Chatwin, B. 1987. The Songlines. Chapter 3, pp 11 – 15. London: Jonathan Cape Ltd

McNeill, L. 2012. There Is No "I" in Network: Social Networking Sites and Posthuman Auto/Biography.

Stanner, W. E. H. 1979. The Dreaming. pp 23 – 40. Australian National University Press, Canberra.

Van Luyn, A. 2013. BA1002: Our Space: Networks, Narratives, and the Making of Place, Week 4 Notes (PowerPoint). Retrieved from:

Image Credits

Butler, P. 2010. Map of the World Drawn Entirely Using Facebook Connections. Retrieved at

1 comment:

  1. Hi Summer,

    I really enjoyed your blog post. I found it fascinating reading your links with narratives and the Facebook timeline. It is important to understand the potential for problems when regarding the use of timelines. By reviewing someones history it can cause untold issues.

    As seen in Ryan Kim's (2011) article, this supposed power with operating timeline can be viewed as a blessing and a curse. Users do not understand the immense power and danger associated with this feature.


    Kim, R. (2011) Facebook, Timeline and the power of the past. Retreived from: