Over recent years, mobile communication technologies have enabled capitalist networking algorithms to quietly penetrate our daily lives, becoming an integral component in the shaping of our identity. We no longer have sole agency over the presentation of self, as our everyday cycles of impression are laminated together to form a synchronized sphere of monetized data. Where total public transparency has become the default setting, and privacy glass is an alternative 'tickable' option.
Faux pas is an always-on intervention to contaminate the oil of the personal information economy with a foreign body of de-monetized labour. The live performance openly submits my personal sphere of 'life - my quantification, my autobiography and my social media persona - to be publicly curated, socially edited and playfully embodied by others to collectively transmit a faux performance of self.
We are sleep walking into a transparent society of authenticated self-monitoring. Where the concept of self-tracking is pushed to be taken up voluntarily as a response to external encouragement, rather than as a wholly self-generated and private initiative. Self-tracking rationales and sites are proliferating as part of a ‘function creep’ of the technology and ethos of reflexive self-monitoring. The personal informatics derived from life logging are used by actors, agencies and organizations and go beyond the personal and privatized realm1.
Self-tracking fosters a decontextualized blurring of common privacy boundaries by collapsing social contexts. This causes personal information that was formerly confined to and aimed at a particular social context or relationship to transgress its usual borders2. In some contexts people are encouraged, ‘nudged’, obliged or coerced into using digital devices to produce personal data to be used by others. Nudging influences agents’ processes of preference (and, hence, identity) formation by the partial outsourcing of self-government.
Under the allure of ‘excessive convenience’ we are systematically discouraged from shaping our will and agency over active choice. This prevents us from engaging in the existential (if effortful) task of self-constitution that is at the heart of the very process of identity formation3.
Faux pas breaks the dichotomy of transmitter-receiver and performer-audience by the dissolution of pre-defined dualities. My primary online identity is suppressed and possessed by an infinite array dissociated personalities, who dynamically re-define their roles to achieve a live state of my cohabitants. The faux performance of distinct personalities collectively adheres to current trends of identity authentication, and embrace the nudges of encouragement from external devices by providing a real-time feed of de-monetized labour.
1: Deborah Lupton, Self-tracking modes: Reflexive self-monitoring and data practices. (2014), 7. Available at SSRN:http://ssrn.com/abstract=2483549. Accessed 14 February 2016.
2: Helen Nissenbaum, Privacy in context: Technology, policy, and the integrity of social life. (Stanford Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2010), 40.
3: Christian Schubert, On the Ethics of Public Nudging: Autonomy and Agency (2015), 22. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2672970. Accessed 2 March 2016.