“Sometimes, in fact, like a hunter in the forest, he spots the written quarry, follows a trail, laughs, plays tricks, or else like a gambler, lets himself be taken in by it.”(de Certeau)
The comments on my last post on personas were inspirational. We are mosaics in Twitter spaces as _thextraman_ noted. And most of us real flesh and blood creatures. Pierre phrased a superb question: Is our persona a hidden alter ego or our true conscious self over emphasized? which is related to Peter’s question: Who will I become in the cupboards and corridors of their imagination?
I started thinking about what is so compelling about Twitter and how it is different from other social media spaces like Facebook. I don’t propose to analyse the technical differences, I want to unpack the some of the social ritual aspects specific to my floating wold in Twitter. For me twitter is very much a ‘what if’ space. It is also a space where I can observe the resurgence of poetry. I can also observe how photography is used in everyday life as a form of communication.
In my stream, I see people trying to be the best they can be. Like Peter, I was surprised and at times overwhelmed by the levels of kindness and care expressed by people in this space. I am also aware of the pitfalls of utopian views of life and of our ever present desire to create utopias. Nonetheless, maybe this is a space where we are beginning experiment with new social rituals which depend on the development an over-emphasised conscious self expressed through personas.
I wonder too, if this space encourages self reflexivity, particularly with regard to what we are projecting and transferring onto others and in turn what is being projected and transferred to us? Those of us who like to write, draw and take photos feed on the feedback which is generally very kind. I, for one, send critiques through whispers, I prefer not to do it in public. That is my upbringing. I have noticed others do the same. There is a veil between public and private operating in Twitter, or to use a theatre metaphor, a front and back stage (Goffman also uses this metaphor). So, to be egocentric do I assume everyone else is doing the same?
My assumption is that the timeline is public, even for those who protect their tweets, and if people reveal intimate details, that is a conscious choice on their part. And yet, I am uneasy about this assumption because I am drawing on rules of engagement for what can be said, who listens and who speaks from other contexts with which I am familiar.
But Twitter is a new context, where else can you go where you just drop in and out, engage in dialogues or monologues, stick up paintings, drawings, photos, poems, microfiction, blog links? And who are we in Twitter? If we assume a persona we need to maintain it, inhabit it and nurture it. Peter’s question about who we will become in the imaginations of others extends to who we shall become in our own imaginations as well. And Pierre is right too, we do over-emphasise aspects of ourselves through our personas, through the people we choose to follow and interact with.
To return to de Certeau, I suggest we are also our own quarry.