Able to interact on social?

The social network known as facebook was born in 2004 and  began to spread quickly, like a virus. After first conquering  American universities it moved on to take over the rest of the world, by means of the web.

Its diffusion across a pre-existing environment echoes the historical diffusion of the Christian religion across the Roman Empire.

It was the Roman systems of communication, and in particular its system of roads, allowed Christianity to spread easily across the whole Europe: a new individualistic and monotheistic religion was able to replace the old polytheistic collective beliefs. Nowadays, it is ultra-rapid, electronic communication networks that make it possible for individuals to communicate content and for social networks to gain control of the online world in just a few years, just as Christianity did at the time of the Roman Empire.vie

Christianity was able to vanquish polytheist traditions thanks to its saving-oneself message, which undermined a previously existing set of rules based on the needs of collective communities.  That previously existing system did not attach a great deal of importance to the saving of individuals, instead prioritizing  the survival of the whole communities against the malignant power of nature; in particular as regarded nature’s ability to thwart human agricultural endeavours..

Christianity, in contrast, called for the saving of individuals  and offered every single human being a new possibility of freedom and the opportunity to choose to abandon a life based on collective bonds

WEB 2.0

The 2.0 web hasimages (18) been a sort of individual liberation from previously existing information restrictions which only those who had significant economic means and political power were able to get around. With web 2.0 it has become possible to communicate at the click of a button, whoever and wherever you may be. In the years 2008-09 saw facebook’s diffuse itself in Italy  with great rapidity. At the moment there are some 28 million Italian facebook profiles, representing a population of 60 million people. At the same time, a battle for supremacy within the media world began. The new players intended to take over the space previously inhabited by the traditional, long-established media such as cinema, TV, radio and the press. These old forms of media, in turn,  fought to prevent a highly affordable system of communication and information sharing that allowed anyone to become a source of news from growing and challenging their power.

Individual interaction used to be limited by a system of direct, mediated or semi-mediated Thompsonian partitions.  With the advent of the digital age, those partitions have undergone changes in which the three subjects foreseen by the traditional partition have been able to act individually, giving birth to new communications solutions which could easily turn into a trap for those unable to perceive the real differences between them and traditional (direct) media communication.

Technological background

One effect of the rise of  computer mediated communication  has been tear down the curtain dividing front and back stage from one another. Pictures and FullSizeRenderburst of lights have appeared on the stage of social media, breaking down procedures and acts – sometimes written and sometimes merely verbal – that have been passed down generation to generation. Television, transmitting live and in high-definition, had already given viewers a limited glimpse into what was going on behind the scenes  But what the audience saw still  ultimately controlled by the broadcaster.

Those broadcasters rarely showed what was going on in background, until the arrival of shows like “Big Brother”, whose plot consisted of backstage goings on that had taken control of the  whole stage.

The move from black and white to high definition, colour television has forced the media to take minute care of the way they  film, so as to avoid loosing a single detail.  Shooting footage this way lays everything, such as the age of the person being filmed, inescapably bare to the viewer’s eye.

download (22)Thanks to technological inovation, details once veiled and unseen now break through the screen with the unforgivable thoroughness of high definition. A detail that wouldonce have appeared only in direct communication is now laid open for all to see, without distinction of class of caste. The king is now naked for us all to see. We have a form of equality in transparency..

It is far from easy to distinguish where social networks begin and end. One can immediately recognize their boundaries are transparent and flimsy enough to allow us to hide behind unidentifiable avatars. At the same time we are forced to leave traces in order to be able to use access the networks themselves. Meaning that  the market players behind social networks can see everything that is going on behind our own curtains.

Intercommunication and metamorphosis

Now that  the first and few years in which these new and varied means of communication came into being have themselves come to an end, we can begin to draw conclusions as to how the use of social networks has effected people’s lives. We can learn how social media has modified the rules of communication within society itself and been shaped and remodelled by the societies in which it has come into being. Social networks are willy-nilly amalgamations of human performance and intercommunication carried out by virtual means. They speak for the currently existing human societies that have been created and consolidated through centuries communication made up of the interchange of rules, signs and symbols: the system of communication that distinguishes the evolution of our own species from all others.

Short Bibliography

The aim of this short essay is merely to highlight some potentially crucial points to keep in mind when approaching the analysis of social networks as a means of communication. It takes its inspiration  from a variety of different articles and essays published prior to the birth of social networks

“La vita quotidiana come rappresentazione” di Erwin Goffman,

“The Media and Modernity “di J.B. Thompson

“La società della trasparenza” di Byung-Chul Han

“Nello sciame” di Byung-Chul Han

“Il Filtro” di Eli Pariser

“Teoria dei Simboli” di Norbert Elias

No sense of place” di J. Meyrowitz

“Goffman, la metafora drammaturgica” di Francesca Panzacchi

“Don Chisciotte e il problema della realtà” di A.Schutz

“La comunicazione generativa” di L.Toschi

“L’uomo e la cultura” di L.Rosati

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