It has always perplexed me that Venmo — an app that facilitates splitting restaurant bills or making cashless purchases from vendors who don’t take credit — was ever touted as a kind of social media. The fact that it had a “social” feed displaying a list of users’ transactions never made much sense as anything but an advertisement for the service itself, a kind of proof of its popularity and presumable reliability: All these other people you know (and all these other vendors) trust us with their commerce. It was the network-era equivalent of constructing a bank building out of marble.
I wrote a comment just now. A rather good one, if I do say so. Then I wished to praise a particular sentence of yours so I hit the blue "read" arrow, and with so minor a provocation the machine appears to have flushed my comment. Which might seem to be a purely procedural moment that could be "solved" with technical know-how, but under the circumstances I am inclined to elevate my lost comment to the status of rabbinical, even Derridean, marginalia. In terms of the machine-human interface you could say that I "wanted" to lose my comment. Perhaps I was so eager to disseminate it that losing it might count as largesse, as eager disbursement on my part (the gesture here would be something generous with the wrist--"away"). I would praise your writing more but I fear to go back up there and ferret out quotations. Nevertheless my affection for your style is something more than nostalgia for Foucault, though that surely has played its part. [geezus fuck I read this to my smart nurse wife and she says that my comment sounds like something that got plopped into a chatty AI machine for final basting.][also she points out that ten years ago it was important to always pay cash at the LCBO because in a custody battle the state gets ahold of your Visa purchases and lists them, including liquor and beer, for the amusement of the court. Because our private life is always a hoot.]
Anything that keeps something like a financial transaction secret or opaque is simply a barrier to unbounded communication. Transparency is the fashion so these barriers must be eliminated. Social communication is more rapid and effortless when it is smoothed out and its guard rails and limits are removed. This also means stripping people of an interior life that only puts borders on communication. But it’s such an interesting moment in contrast to Foucault’s discipline society that such exposing of ourselves does not occur by violent means. Instead, it occurs voluntarily as a kind of self-exposure. And in our digital panopticon our personal openness allows for unbridled communication – whereas closedness, or private interiority only obstruct it.
Social media and giving up our data is not something we are coerced into, but something we think we execute with free will. But the more transparency we have, the more Big Data is able to track and predict. The future becomes more and more calculable and controllable. In fact, we are doing less through our supposed free will and more because neoliberalism has shaped us to do so.