Looking at my daily Twitter stats I get dismayed when I get unfollowed, sometimes even when it is a ‘spambot’, it as if I am being rejected, that I am not popular
anymore; the same with Facebook when I look at the ‘De-Friended’ App on my iPhone – I am less loved, I am less interesting, I am devalued.
It seems to me that we live increasingly by what others think of us, and derive our value from others opinions of us, the juxtaposition is that the people I admire did not, and do not, outwardly give a tinkers curse about what others thought of them, other than that they had sense of ‘doing right’ and being true to themselves. This global and technological insecurity is further articulated by the advertising, the slimming plans, the ‘lifestyle’ models we are given; our identity is more and more mediated by capitalism and by social networking rather than an sense of individual identity.
Being an openly gay man, from South Yorkshire there are all sorts of tensions going on in my head, my political beliefs about social justice, and doing what is right (thanks to my Grandmother the Church I went to!) and also about taking a stand – well in ‘my day’ being gay was a political statement and not a lifestyle choice. Being a socialist and gay do inform each other, we should judge less, forgive more, and tolerate and embrace culture, but this is being constantly mediated by how many Facebook friends I have, or have not.
It’s true we all derive, and strive for, affirmation from our peer group, but with Facebook and Twitter (and I suppose all other social network sites) our peer group is now extended, not unlike an extended networked family, in an age when the biological family is contracting – no more 300 guests (and the village) at the wedding now – or are we trying to recreate that familial extension with strangers.
My goal, which I seem to have relented on, is to create my own identity; being gay is part of my identity but not a big part, being a socialist is more part of it now, and now I am trying to adapt into all this being a ‘partner’ and with the savage cuts being a little more political (which so far as amounted to drinking Cocktails with friends on Hoxton!); there is no ready made identity for me, for any of use, and I must contintually construct it under the spotlight of the internet (if I so choose).
Somehow I am going to have to accept that not everyone is going to like that the construction, c’est la vie!