U don’t get the internet part 1: narcissism as a path to better web content

U don’t get the internet part 1: narcissism as…

u don’t get the internet part 1: narcissism as a path to better web content from jessica mullen on Vimeo.

September 2008

A common critique of lifestreaming is that it encourages narcissistic behavior. Prior to my experiments with lifestreaming, I created this video to confront thinking about the use of narcissism (or generation "Y"'s purported self-obsession) in the creation of web content. On the surface, the intended audience for the piece is anyone born before 1980. The mocking tone is meant to subtly provoke infrequent web users of any generation to question their own technological prowess, while ultimately poking fun at the video narrator herself.

U don’t get the internet challenges the audience to embrace their own supposed narcissism, and to share their knowledge with others via the Internet. People are frequently wary of placing personal information in the public sphere; this piece addresses that fear by explaining credibility gained from using one’s real name, the unlikelihood of stalking, and the potential to become a niche celebrity. In addition to fears of predators and identity theft, fear of irrelevance, or that what they share will not be good enough, too boring, or that no one will like it, scares many away from using the Internet as a creative outlet.

Using a style native to generation "Y"’s vernacular, U don’t get the internet addresses accountability, privacy, niche celebrity and tools for publishing to the web through the lens of the claim that generation "Y" is the most narcissistic generation ever. Philosopher Alan Kirby explains this generational difference in terms of philosophical movements:

In postmodernism, one read, watched, listened, as before. In pseudo-modernism one phones, clicks, presses, surfs, chooses, moves, downloads. There is a generation gap here, roughly separating people born before and after 1980. Those born later might see their peers as free, autonomous, inventive, expressive, dynamic, empowered, independent, their voices unique, raised and heard: postmodernism and everything before it will by contrast seem elitist, dull, a distant and droning monologue which oppresses and occludes them. Those born before 1980 may see, not the people, but contemporary texts which are alternately violent, pornographic, unreal, trite, vapid, conformist, consumerist, meaningless and brainless (see the drivel found, say, on some Wikipedia pages, or the lack of context on Ceefax). To them what came before pseudo-modernism will increasingly seem a golden age of intelligence, creativity, rebellion and authenticity. Hence the name ‘pseudo-modernism’ also connotes the tension between the sophistication of the technological means, and the vapidity or ignorance of the content conveyed by it – a cultural moment summed up by the fatuity of the mobile phone user’s “I’m on the bus”.

U don’t get the internet’s message was defensively and abrasively delivered, zealously embracing pseudo-modernism.

Jessica Mullen
Living the magick life.