The ideological enthusiasm for “participation” disguises the emptying out of privacy, and the inescapable scrutiny and social documentation ushers in “self-surveillance” — a grimmer way of describing online self-fashioning or identity construction. In using social media, we become fatally aware of how we can sell ourselves and thus intensify self-marketing practices. We put ourselves forward as a brand in order to register in these commercially oriented, quantification-driven systems. As use of these sites become more pervasive and normative, we start to seem to have no choice but to self-brand because it is the only way to take the measure of ourselves.
Rob Horning, at it again. This might be his magnum opus, summing up everything he’s been trying to do with Marginal Utility to date. Quite possibly a (the?) landmark essay on self-branding, self-surveillance, microfame, hipsterism (possibly the last word on that subject) and enforced participation in the attention economy, with necessary references to Jodi Dean, Tiqqun, Lauren Berlant, danah boyd, Eben Moglen, fellow TNI-er Nathan Jurgenson, and the OG Erving Goffman.