So-called social networks encourage digital narcissism

Social networks aren’t doing their job. Or at least people in my networks aren’t socializing in social networks. I suppose it’s because the “social” in “social network” has multiple meanings. Although people are socializing on a certain level, I find that more and more people are just using the network as a platform to boost their ego and promote themselves. This kind of digital narcissism greatly affects the kind of content they post their sites, since they are hugely interested in how others perceive them. (I’ve already talked about this in a previous post about political twittering.)

I am not against these networks that are becoming more and more of a profile database, but I believe that social networks can be used for actual networking and human interaction; which was one of the founding missions of Ewhaian. Perhaps we need a new social network where we can be more comfortable being an individual in a group instead of being a group of individuals. Though I dread that I may sound like a commie, I want a sociable network, not a social one (I wonder if there is such a term?). That is something Facebook- and all the other American SN sites lack. In some sense, I want to go back to the atmosphere that was generated in forums and “communities” back in the old days when the Internet was harnessed through services like CompuServe. (Being in Korea, I used Hitel, Chollian, Nownuri, and Netsgo- all of which have since disappeared.)

For instance, I am part of the Harvard network and have subscribed to a number of “groups” but the activity going on in those groups is very minimal and they don’t provide enough incentives for me to actively engage in them. I am a fan of MOMA, but aside from emails regarding exhibition updates, there is no real interaction with me and MOMA, nor me and other fans of MOMA. You may blame us- saying that we could take more initiative, but I think it’s also a matter of the interface; the current interface is terrible in making a generative community.

I think it’s terrible that at the end of the day, Internet services are based on programs consisting of 0s and 1s and as someone who doesn’t know how to write these programs, I can’t implement any ideas without an engineer.

Sociable Network: a network of people who socialize based on mutual interest of a certain topic, person, or network. The difference between a social network and a sociable network is that the latter places less importance on the individual, and more on the common interest.

-yvette wohn


7 responses to “So-called social networks encourage digital narcissism

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  5. Digital narcissism? Oh, absolutely! Social networks aren’t about socialising, they’re about personal branding and defining yourself by associating your contructed identity with products, brands, ideologies, and other people. Like people do in the Real World, only more obviously in cyberspace. (“I’m a philanthropist! Look at me!”) It’s an ego stroke, an opportunity to publicise one’s self and an excercise in control — it’s chest-beating, not interaction.

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