In an age of transparency and spectacle, we find ourselves evermore encouraged to display our lives to the public gaze. But what exactly are we trying to show off? What has happened to the boundaries between front stage and back?
Cooperation goes through these communication acts; most of the information and meta-information pass from one another sometimes unwittingly, like the language: as soon as you answer the telephone you know what language to use depending on the word you hear. If the caller says “pronto” and not hello you will know that it’s Italian and not English.
Think of the typical way to ask in Italian “disturbo”? am I bothering?
It’s a negotiation about the other person availability to communicate.
The use of social reminds the calls with speaker phone where you don’t know what the other persons does, if he or she is alone or with someone else and how concentrate she will be. Furthermore messages with social are kept there and everyone can see them, private ones can be shown to others and even contextualized in different settings and that’s the reason why they might offer a new function to erase the messages after a certain period of time. Function that it couldn’t prevent from the use of the screen shot. The use of mobiles being able to communicate while sitting, standing
and even lying down with flat connections have taken away all the technical constraints there used to be and used to place the communication in a well-defined context (at the beginning there used to be just p.c.)
socials are managed by special brokers who are in part informers and in part mediators, as in Goffman’s definition about inconsistency.
By knowing all about the surfers’ stage and backstage they are able to draw the users’ profile with an exactitude that they had never conceived before. Google, Amazon, Skype and Facebook for example, can see our backstage behaviour which we would never want to show to anyone especially in specific situations.
A private research in google to find out more about someone, or the research for information about a person we will meet for working reason to be able to know more about him or her, or to verify the price of a product that they are trying to sell us. A behaviour that would make us feel very uncomfortable and would surely create problems in the communication, if known.
Socials seem to be so free from limits. Time and duration of the connection, just like the where from and by what am I connecting to the internet are precious hints to understand how space and time are regulated in social networks where apparently there are no limits but in fact, the fineness of those limits are crucial to decode the social themselves.
Same as in the case of Rosetta Stone where different scripts in known languages allowed an inter-translation that let us decode the meaning of hieroglyphic.
The hand-held scanner for shoppers is an example of the way supermarkets monitor your choices during your shopping.
Knowing the way and the order of our shopping and even how long we take from one to another selection is part of our private backstage but all these data are crucial to understand our approach with the goods on the shelves.
What’s the need of all this? It’s indisputable that these data are wanted by anyone who wants to send an efficacious advertising message targeting the user. In addition, they need to know the course the message will follow to reach the user correctly.
Private space and transparency
Other example of interaction by the always connected user are easy to be seen: you get a text message during an important meeting which is the stage space.
Same as the autocue, we know it’s there but we shouldn’t see it. A chat message during a family discussion is a good excuse to avoid the fight at least formally. Similar situations have violated our world.
The telephone age used to be different, at the beginning they were plugged to the wall and we didn’t use to call people at certain time of the day because they could have been at sleep or at lunch. And there used to be the phone box to create a private separate space and we might remind the telephone operators trying to eavesdrop.
Social rules were adopted on how to use the telephone but then we reached places while the recipient was an outside chance. Now it’s the other way around, we call the recipient directly doesn’t matter where they are.
The space is the outside chance while the recipient is the default.
Are there no rules?
Socials aren’t regulated by any participated consent at the moment. Anyone decides freely according to their personal way and depending on the mean they are using. Twitter, for example, is limited by the shortness of the posted sentences and a kind of anarchy allow you to publish and communicate any kind of thing without defining what stage you are acting, in a mix of set designs and stages that can easily swap letting us no time to change costume and rearrange the character for the new set.
With its unlimited and unregulated combinations the social networks lose their effectiveness.
There are already some established rules of polite behaviour governing virtual “non-spaces”, such as social networks. These rules are often referred to as “netiquette”. However, we are still far from having codified the rules for appropriate interaction between virtual, and non-virtual spaces. This indeterminacy has consequences for the efficacy of virtual communication. It is also something that is beyond the control of those who transmit messages online, as a consequence of the spatial dislocation separating them from their audience.