Facebook Itself

The Profile and Self

Facebook Friends

Social Networking

Activity and Passivity















facebook and philosophy

Facebook and Philosophy

Ed. by D.E. Wittkower. Chicago & La Salle, IL. Open Court Publishing Company, 2010. 285 pp. ISBN 978-0-8126-9675-2.
A Review by Matt Bridgewater
Bowling Green State University












Activity & Passivity

The section “Activity and Passivity: Maybe Se Puede!” scrutinizes the power systems and systems of expression/repression that make up Facebook, analyzes how “real world selves” and “Facebook selves” are active (or not) in creating social change and redefining social categories, and redefines what labor means in the social networking economy. Waddick Doyle and Matthew Fraser’s “Facebook, Surveillance, and Power” draws on Foucault to explore how corporations and governments are better able to watch the public in the digital age, but also how the public is in a better position to watch the government and corporations.

Asaf Bar-Tura’s “Wall to Wall or Face to Face” implores that Facebook is not an end to “emancipate ourselves from the constraints of unnecessary domination in all its forms,” but a tool which must be enhanced by face to face connections. He argues that social networking can lead to social change, and relates a personal anecdote in how he accomplished this.

Trebor Scholz’s “Facebook as Playground and Factory” discusses the blurring of the boundaries between labor and leisure that in the digital age can lead to insidious exploitation. He ultimately suggests that "we should look for social practices or ideas that make it easier for us to be powerful together" (252). In other words, then, dismantle the master's house with the master's tools.

Richard Morgan and John Clulow’s “The Proles and Cons of Facebook” plays wonderfully off of the concepts of the previous two articles to raise questions about what is internet activism. While they acknowledge it is possible to be an internet activist, they claim that because it’s so easy to join so many “internet causes” that “Facebook has reduced the ability to organize” (261). They conclude cynically by saying that “It’s almost as if Facebook doesn’t want you logging off and going outside to meet with your fellow activists” (264).

Finally, Sara Louise Muhr and Michael Pedersen’s article “Faking It on Facebook” uses Zizek’s concept of interpassivity to claim that Facebook relegates the responsibility of “being a good citizen,” or taking part in social or physical activities “onto our surrogate selves” (271). Overall, these articles discuss how the self (both physical and digital) can be made active, but usually are pacified by social networking.