Enter Forum (I). Paula Sibilia: How social networks transform our intimacy?

Notes from the Enter Forum, 1st International Internet Privacy Forum, organized by the CCCB – Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, and held in Barcelona, June 16-18, 2014.

Paula Sibilia, author of La intimidad como espectáculo
How social networks transform our intimacy?

We are living an age where our many technological devices — e.g. mobile phones — are pervasive and we “cannot live without them”, but this is happening because something had already happened, a change had already taken place decades ago. How is that we became “compatible” with our devices? Our ways of life accommodate to the devices, we made our lives compatible with our devices. And it’s both cause and consequence: we became compatible with our devices, but we built our devices because we aimed for a change.

During the modern era, and especially since the XIXth and XXth centuries, reading (especially fiction and novels) became a mainstream routine, and it was something that happened in silence and in isolation. Same happened when writing: both writing and reading was an intimate activity, something you did on your own. These activities required concentration, dedication. And even a specific place, a walled one — including schools.

This exercise of introspection was necessary to build one’s own subjectivity, one’s own identity, one’s own self. One’s own self compatible with the world that was being created since the Industrial revolution and all along the industrial era.

What changed in recent times?

We’re witnessing a shift from the intimate individual to the networked one. Which is changing the way to define our subjectivities, to deal with the world, to deal with others. We’re leaving behind the need of “a room of one’s own” (à la Virginia Woolf) for being and we’re moving towards a new paradigm of building one’s ego, one’s person, one’s subjectivity.

And this is of course radically changing education, we’re tearing down the walls we built for preserving our intimacy, much needed for building our selfs (¿Redes o paredes? La escuela en tiempos de dispersión).

Now, being visible, being online, being networked is the essence of time. And it shapes the essence of our own beings, our own self, our own identity and our own identity.

Our subjectivities are not alter-directed, instead of intro-directed or self-directed. We needed silence and intimacy, now we need crowds and openness. We were confined inside walls, we got rid of them, we became free… only to fall inside the network. Is that freedom? Is it not? It’s just different, much different indeed.

If we look at the school as a technology, the technology of a given age, the technology that we made compatible with a given age… it may now be the case that this technology, the school, if the age changed, it may well now be that the school became an incompatible technology for the new age.

So, it looks we got free, we unconfined ourselves. But. Can it be that the private sector could be capturing these free ones for their own profit? Could it be that the disclosure of the school is now being captured by the market? Is it possible that, in the quest for freedom we disclosed education for it to fall in the arms of private ownership?

We may agree that tearing down the walls of the school, disclosing education, is a much better scenario for knowledge to be created and transferred. But, instead, we may now need to create spaces for dialogue, for debate, for thoughtful exchange. We disclosed the spaces of knowledge, which is good, but we destroyed along the spaces for dialogue and debate, which is not.


Enter Forum (2014)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2014) “Enter Forum (I). Paula Sibilia: How social networks transform our intimacy?” In ICTlogy, #129, June 2014. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from https://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4180

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