Written bySebastian Strakowicz. 4 comments
Twitterville - a place where our deepest, unconscious and intimate desires are shared amongst ourselves.
Lately, our technosocial omnipresence has started occupying yet another neighborhood — Twitterville. Unlike TV, radio, cinema or websites, built by a selected few, Twitter is a far more vibrant space, dramatically growing in contributors and constantly expanding its content. In theory designed for immediacy and connectivity, in practice often built on a pre determined ‘look-at-me-ness’, Twitter personifies a demand for attention we’ve been conditioned to embrace by that voyeuristic Mecca, Hollywood.
As traditional audiences, the (expensive and often difficult to use) media technologies narrated stories on our behalf. These stories were made for us but not necessarily about us: look at the ‘whiteness’ of Australian TV until reality TV exposed non-white folks onto our screens.
But Twitterville is made by and about us. We have the luxury, and a responsibility, to be identified for who we are/want to be, not for what others (TV personalities, cinematic characters, comic book heroes etc) want us to identify with. Unlike Hollywood, where the audience (as though it is a single being) gazes at the desired ‘stars’ on the exclusive screen, Twitterville gives us the opportunity to exchange the gaze and recognize our diversity via our individualized screens. It is a powerful space to be part of. Jean-Paul Sartre was well aware of this phenomenon long before the web came to be, stating: ‘As I am under the gaze I no longer see the eye that looks at me, and if I see the eye, the gaze disappears’. In Twitterville the equilibrium of power shifts as collective awareness of each other’s presence changes our perceptions of our selves and our space.
Hollywood’s impact on Twitter is clearly significant as some of the most followed twitterers also happen to be celebrities. Where would Twitter be without those well known personas? And what is their agenda? Is it the same as yours? Both Twitterville and Hollywood are everpresent entities – but which is mimicking which?
Sometimes, Twitter seems to act as filling a void that we all recognize in our lives: the need for attention, to belong, to matter and to be recognized. Those needs can be expressed in many forms: sharing information, asking questions, offering answers. But some tweets feel like botox: unnecessarily injected, forced from fear of disappearing in the crowd, fed by a need to belong. Trying to enhance your appearance can be an ugly thing.
Through its ongoing self-described personas and actions, Twitter exposes to us, more clearly than any other technosocial space before it, that humans are social beings and isolation is not a desirable position. We want to be visible. Twitter is a space where the Hollywood culture of “content for the people” clashes with the a culture of “content of the people”. How we see ourselves in Twitterville is still, for better or worse, bound together with Hollywood – they both represent and feed popular culture.
The really fascinating aspect of Twitter is observing how important its space becomes for our deepest, unconscious and intimate desires to be shared amongst ourselves. Twitter is part of our ongoing search for utopia – its space is accessible and harmonious, but it exposes unintentionally(?) many ugly truths about ourselves. It is our choice to Tweet – we all embody those messages. And just like Hollywood’s celebrities, we must recognize their power and impact beyond Twittterville. You have desired and actively constructed this gaze. Remember, your spectators manipulate their image, and yours is under a constant collective surveillance.