Philosophy Friday: Self-Regulating through Social Media.

22 03 2013

Thoughts on the Panopticon & Computers.

Are our computers the new “panopticon” regulating our behavior through self-regulation?

Have we gone so far as to not even need an “institution” to keep us docile?

Through social media we are creating a two-way mirror of judgment and individual normalization. Social media is the new internalized surveillance.


The “panopticon” is basically an “all-seeing” observation tower that allows guards to constantly have prisoners under observation. Prisoners never know when they are being watched, thus they start supervising their own thoughts and behaviors and as Foucault says, a prisoner becomes the “principle of his own subjection.”

But now, we are in control of the (online) observation and we still allow said observations to occur. Perhaps it’s because we have all grown up in the world of the panopticon—it subtle or not so subtle—being the concept for how most major institutions function—prisons, schools, hospitals, key corporations etc. so we become so engrained with self-monitoring that we now purposely do it as part of our daily ritual.

We are creating an online persona to be monitored and though we may not track all of our behaviors from reality to the web, they still are connected—we are cyborgs at least in regards to our social lives. Our day-to-day is entwined with computer technology that it would be almost impossible to separate it at this point.

I am not saying that the weaving of our natural and technological lives is a bad thing, but I am suggesting that there is a power dynamic here that we might be overlooking. Are we at a point beyond the need to be controlled by some sort of hierarchy because we are actually controlling ourselves? There are few individual people who actually exercise power over a large population and maybe it’s because computers are doing it for us, in that we are maintaining our own subordination through self-regulating our personas online. We are keeping each other in check in an almost passive-aggressive sort of way.

Anyway, I feel like I’m on to something here but haven’t quite gotten there all the way. I would love other people’s opinions on the matter.

Fig Tree of Sadness aka Sleeping with Books.

3 05 2012

As many of you know, I’ve been trying to figure out my life for some time now. I’m beginning to wonder if trying to figure out one’s life is like trying to fall in love. You can’t make it happen, it just does. Or it just is.

Last night I decided instead of boys I am going to sleep with books. So to bed I took my all-time favorite love Gloria Anzaldua, as well as Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault and The Diaries of Sylvia Plath.

Plath says, “The poverty of life without dreams is too horrible to imagine. . . .”

I realized the horribleness has been imagined in my own life. For the past year I have had no dreams, no goals, nothing I really wanted except maybe to not want anything. Many people strive for just that, to be content with just being, but I don’t care for it at all. I want to reach for things. I want to achieve, to do things I haven’t done before. To go places. To meet new people. To become better.

And maybe that’s the problem. I think that by setting goals and achieving I will eventually become “better,” when really I will always be the same. Maybe not “the same,” but the actual acts aren’t what changes people so much as what is learned along the way. And I don’t need necessarily specific intentions as much as just an openness to learn. Or that’s a theory anyway.

Today this very beautiful creature asked me to runaway to South America with him. Yes friends, we’ve met before, it wasn’t some random online dating guy. It’s funny because I woke up really sad, I am still really sad, and it’s weird timing because almost any other day I’d be much closer to saying yes. Today I am just moping. And wondering, if it was my own idea would I be more inclined to do it? Perhaps the problem is that I don’t want to ride on the coattails of another man, even if it’s a good guy with good intentions. Maybe I want it to be a solo excursion or at least a non-romantic one.

I told him I couldn’t because of $. He said money is usually a problem but not the problem.

So, I guess the problem is me.

I don’t know what I want. And making such a drastic life changing decision like quitting my job, moving to a foreign country, basically dropping off the face of the planet–though all seems tempting–isn’t responsible or even a good choice for someone who’s so confused about what she’s doing here on earth as it is. It’s literally running away. And it won’t resolve these issues of sadness and horrible dead dream poverty that I’m going through. Just like a drug, it’s a distraction from the main issue. And when I decide to move to South America or Europe or wherever I decide to move next–I want it to be because I’m ready and willing, but just because I’m scared and confused.

So for now, it’s back to my bed full of books. Probably didn’t pick the best options for getting over sad depressing things. Though if you’re going to do it, might as well do it right. Plath had it down. Maybe I should write some poems. . .

From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

– Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Chapter 7

Know. Know.

7 02 2012

I was talking to this cute Rottweiler/Lab mix last night about Foucault and his theory of the eye of power. I was like, “yo dog, how do you know the things that you know?” And the dog looked at me and was like, “because my master tells me so.” And so we agreed.

I’ve seen quite a few people fall lately. The other night we left the bar and this doode grabbed my roommate’s ass. I did not see this. But I did see him seconds later run smack into a pole. Just like in the cartoons. It was so amazing. Then, I think he must have had a concussion or something because he was standing by his car, drunk as fuck like he was going to actually DRIVE, and he pulled down his pants and tried to show us his balls. Of course they were so small we couldn’t see a thing. Falling changes people.


I like not wearing a bra if I have on the right kind of shirt.

I have been craving tofu all day. This proves I am indeed vegan. Though, back in undergrad when I was just a sad regular vegetarian  I used to eat bowls of carrots covered with sunflower seeds and italian dressing every time I got drunk. People used to get really weirded out by that. I’m telling you all it’s delicious. I need to go to the grocery store. I am a professional at putting that off. Yesterday I made hummus and finally got the consistency right, but I am out of anything to dip in it. I do not know why I bothered making hummus knowing I had nothing to dip in it. You know, people don’t use the word “dip” to describe other people as often as they should. I’m going to attempt to bring it back.

Does this seem like one of the longest weeks so far to anyone else?

Maybe it was just because yesterday was so long and I barely slept. I blame my roommate and her friends for this problem. But she brought me hash browns this afternoon so I am not complaining.

Coffee makes me go weeeeeee (and yes I mean that in multiple ways). 

The new Dr. Dog album isn’t bad. Though it sounds a lot like their old album. I guess if you got something good, don’t change it.

Speaking of change. I’m quite enjoying being platinum blonde. I’ve never been this blonde before and yeah, assholes, it’s fun. I can pull off red. I love wearing red now. I even bought a new pair of red glasses and I can’t wait until they get here and get on my face.

Fuck. I’m going to take a shower and put on clothes, though I don’t really want to and I wonder why and how people do it so often. But I’m trying to adapt. I’m trying to fit in. Why won’t you all just accept me for the pantless lover that I am?