FACEBOOK

 To Reinvent Yourself



I believe that the temptation to recreate your persona in social networks is becoming a global pandemic. The endless squabbles between the fake, the wannabes and the authentic aristocracy, the pretentious quarreling between aristocratic families dealing with bloodlines, ancestry and the complex rights to regal succession, be it outraged members of old royal houses ursurped by formerly upstarts or offspring born out of wedlock, has turned into an embarassing battle that seems to engage some of the nobility in a never ending story.


I believe we all have seen profile pictures of royals being used by non royals and celebrities´names appearing with a miniscule alteration to create a Facebook account to manipulate us to believe that we may befriend the authentic David Beckham or a member of the House of Windsor. So far, the possibility for the originals to prosecute the imposters are practically non-existent.


Royalty seldom, if ever, appears, as far as I know, for reasons of Protocol, inter alia, with a private or personal account in social networks (except maybe for on Twitter) but may appear on walls which you can ”like”,  but hardly at disposal to add as friends..


This is the top of an iceberg which enables us to present ourselves as we want to be perceived, and to a lesser extent who we really are. We are, of course, allowed to daydream of our attraction and the interest we may create in relation to our persona. And maybe, despite the fraudelence, it stems from an instinct of self preservation since the beginning of Man.  Without embellishments neither commerce or socializing would be interesting. The difference, however, is merely that we seldom have to face the consequences of our self indulgence when it comes to the virtual world. If revealed or questioned we easily get rid of irritating networkes by pressing a delete button...



I see no reason to moralise as long as we are alert to the phenomenon: Princess Madeleine of Sweden is a picture perfect icon who appears on hundreds of profile pictures accompanied by more or less inventive names. Most of us are not personally connected to Mick Jagger, Kate Moss or Marie Antoinette Josèphe Jeanne de Habsbourg-Lorraine, Queen of France and Navarre, little less to Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, (Григорий Ефимович Распутин) for obvious reasons. And yet, they appear on Facebook with the possibility to send a friend´s request...


The social network is a Disney World where you are free to elevate your social status, your skills and talents and to be honest, I do not care much, except for a sense of discomfort that you cannot really be sure whom you are addressing.


 

I believe that make believe and magical thinking is a fundamental psychological strategy to reward and comfort yourself, innate in all of us with very few exceptions, no matter how rational and matter of fact we are or wish to appear. In a world where the majority of media is focused on endless television shows or magazine articles with people being dismissed or disqualified we struggle to maintain some kind of self esteem. In our efforts to make our FB walls attractive and interesting we do research with regards to the arts, politics, history and philisophy or make an inventory of our own knowlegde long forgotten and are learning a lot on the way. We learn from each other and that is a treasure of constant pleasure.


We are endlessly told “You are not good enough” or “ You will not do”. You need a make over, a dress over, your home a make over, so does your garden, your mode of speaking, walking and carrying yourself, your eating habits and your general interests. Age must be erased by surgical means or toxics and the body pumped up at body parts which is dictated by evasive fashionable gurus we do not know anything about apart from their obvious links to the consumer industry at all levels. The compensatory urge to appear less flawed on our FB wall is a comfort in a merciless and overly demanding world.


In addition to God is Dead but Vampires alive and kicking, we are trying to make sense of our inner world and the living conditions, emotionally and intellectually.


Unruly ghosts scare the crap out of us and this is the legacy we give to the young.


Chic pathologists, meticulously dolled up by stylists, are carving in corpses chatting about the best Chablis or their Malibu Condominion and the message is clear: Our children, in the name of rationality are taught that there is no calm Heaven, nor a blissful non-existence, to expect after death. We allow them to get the impression that death actually exists but that afterlife is dominated by evil, restless and vindictive souls in incessant television series obssessed by the subject. Sexual intercourse on camera with strikingly beautiful vampires,  teenaged icons of the young, as lovers is as common as a Burger King with three layers of chili peppar and cheese and I don´t like it at all. I did not even appreciate Tom Cruise biting Brad Pitt in a famous trendsetting movie (The Vampire Chronicles, 1994) with homoerotic overtones involving the two most celebrated male icons of the time. (No, I am not homophobic!)


         

      

In fact, I believe it may even be disastrous: we either become totally desensitized or stressed out and scared. If adrenaline rushes is the only moteur du monde we better stop and reflect.


The enormous potential to use a social network to trigger off your imagination, to express your desires may be highly creative as long as you know your social skills will suffice in social interaction when leaving your computer without being able to block or erase people in contrast to the acquaintances you are socializing with in a network.


Am I a reactionary, a revisionist ? No. Not at all ! Progress, as we perceive it (this is a philosophical question: progress means very different things in different cultural and socioeconomical contexts) must not be stopped but analyzed and reflected upon with common sense.


The Noble Art of Self Deception has never been closer at hand...

 

 

Douglas

2012