Wednesday, 29 August 2007 at 08:01 UTC+01, 2017
Work created during the WUU2 MATE? residency
The residency project 'Wednesday, 29 August 2007 at 08:01 UTC+01' considers ideas of privacy on the internet, the overwhelming nature of social media and the narcissistic need to continually inform others of your current and future activities.
Utilising Facebook's feature that allows you to download your entire history on the platform, during the residency I dove into my Facebook timeline; harnessing the friends I've added, the posts I've shared and the events that I've been 'interested' in to create a new, specially curated, timeline, originally presented on the WUU2 Instagram account.
The timeline was made up of digital images featuring social media activity from Facebook presented alongside various stock images taken from Google search results.
As the residency continued I crafted a persona of myself through the curated content, one that's obsessed with being surveilled and afraid of the government sanctioned corporations that are watching his every move. Towards the end of the residency the content slowly changed, adding in fictional events to the timeline, culminating in the persona of myself quitting Facebook.
'It was over ten years ago now, you know, that I joined up. A lot can happen in ten years, a lot can be forgotten, a lot can be lost... I don't really remember typing in my email, or silently deliberating over what my password should be. Why would I, when since then I've been 'interested' in hundreds of events and am 'friends' with thousands of people? Joining up seems like an inevitable, tiny action, in a long line of tiny actions, ultimately all forgotten in the stream of consciousness that is 'social media'. Lol'
'Adding your education, being part of something, part of an institution, or on a smaller scale being part of a supposed 'team', like chanting 'we're all in this together' makes the situation automatically better? At this point I didn't even have any Facebook friends yet, I'm still setting up my window into this landscape, into the abyss of ads and obtrusive content. It felt so pure back then, or at least I assume it did...'
'Nearly two years in and I'm only just getting my first Facebook friend, someone I know has finally signed up. I was probably there when he did it, pressuring him to 'add' me as soon as he was through the login process. It always feels a lot more exciting when these things are happening to someone else; the grass is always greener on the other side, or so I'm told...'
'I was still 'seeing' other applications at the time. I'd invested in Bebo, some of my friends still used it regularly, throwing each other their allotted daily heart or constantly rearranging their top five friends; such a terribly beautiful feature. Algorithms aren't able to see who you want people to think your favourite people are, not yet anyway, they can only see who you're legitimate favourite people are. I try to log back in sometimes, digging around in my head for a long defunct email address and password, desperate to find old selfies and forgotten messages. I miss those forgotten memories, or the idea of them anyway...'
'There was a time, in the early days, when people didn't seem to realise the distinction between public and private posts. Some people still don't seem to understand, although it feels a lot more like flaunting now, rather than genuinely wanting a realistic conversation. Maybe it was always flaunting, rather than being ignorant to the private messaging system. Maybe I was the one who flaunted? I probably did, I can be very hypocritical sometimes.'
'Many years ago, when I thought simply being able to 'like' something wasn't enough for me, I downloaded a plugin that allowed users to 'dislike'. I hastily began disliking everything I didn't like or agree with, eventually realising that only I could see the red dislikes; my very own tiny filter bubble of sorts. I still want a dislike button, the angry face currently available is just too eager to hate, too eager to be used on articles with offensive clickbaity titles rather than on something you only mildly disagree with.'
'I don't know whether this was my other half at the time, or just a 'concerned' friend, nudging me to become 'Facebook official'. Or maybe it's the other way around, telling me to change my status due to a recent, easily forgotten, break up? I'm in two minds about the idea of declaring your relationship to someone on Facebook; my hypocritical side showing itself again, probably my downfall.'
'It used to be a competition, to see who got the most happy birthdays on their 'big day'. I used to bathe in it, seeing, feeling, indulging in the likes and comments rolling in. I have my birthday private on Facebook now, content with telling myself that my 'real' friends will know my birthday without Facebook having to remind them. They never do. I miss the comments and the likes, although I remember them always feeling empty, devoid of any real meaning... Whenever it's someone elses birthday and I know them, I'll message them, or call them, or say happy birthday in person. When I don't know them well, why would I post a hollow comment to their wall? I do miss those same, hollow comments on my own wall though, another example of my hypocritical digital self...'
'There was a moment, that I seem to have forgotten alongside every other detail surrounding my experience with Facebook, where every message sent to my other half had an extortionate amount of X's attached. Is this message even from an other half? Surely we would be speaking to each other through the private messaging feature? Unfortunately the identity of the user has been lost, turned into a string of numbers, hidden in the bowels of a Facebook data centre at an unknown location.'
'Seven years feels like a long time, so much can happen during a period like that. As I grow older I'm sure seven years will begin to reduce in scale, making up small fragments of forgotten friends and lost memories, a mere blip in one individuals journey through life. Being able to look back, through the archives of Facebook, makes me sad for the past and the present.'
'When social media was still evolving, still slowly turning into the money making, fake news infested machine of today, where individuals are publicly shamed and ridiculed on a daily basis, some ill-informed phrases perpetuated the online space. The word gypsy, spelt incorrectly here, is a good example of some of the offensive, politically incorrect, language used at the time.'
'Going to a place to 'learn' everyday feels very alien to me now, attempting to slot hundreds of different plugs into the same socket is never going to work, no matter how hard you attempt to morph and contort yourself. I still look back, enviously at these points in my life where it felt a lot simpler, similar to how you feel envious of cats or other household pets, the only worry being when their next meal will arrive at their feet. Although, what is a fruitful life without pressure, complicated relationships and the menial day to day?'
'Posting on someone's wall sometimes feels like a disturbing step up from a private message; publicly calling someone out with the ultimate goal being a swift response. Another form of public shaming, only becoming effective when the recipient cares about the quality and cleanliness of their wall. This used to happen a lot, less so now.'
'I used to play video games a lot, still do sometimes when I have a spare moment. Long before I joined Facebook, before the game of 'social media' became all encompassing, I had a fondness for Ratchet and Clank. I go back to it sometimes, to relive childhood memories. I assume this post is from one of those brief moments of reminisce.'
'I think this is from the same video game related thread. We all love to brag about our accomplishments online, especially 'gamers' who make up a huge segment of the population and whose vocal minority promote a very particular brand of vitriol.'
'It's always interesting, and boringly obvious, how words taken out of context can change their initial meaning.'
'Another activity I used to participate in a few years ago, intermittently 'BMXing' at various skateparks, appealing streets and dirt tracks. Whole weekends, devoted to the experience, countless hours fine tuning skills that haven't been used in upwards of six years. Where did all the time go?'
'Whilst babysitting I was introduced to an online video game/social media application called Moshi Monsters. Similar to other online games of the same vein, like Club Penguin, you chose an avatar and slowly levelled up by virtually purchasing clothes, furniture or hair cuts. I think this was fairly short lived however, due to games like this being free to play, or, as some call them 'fee to play', levelling faster by purchasing abilities with real money, as well as the fact it was aimed at children aged between 5-6.'
'Profile pictures. I don't think I need to talk about them, everyone knows about the narcissism, self congratulatory 'look at me, look at how much fun I'm having with my friends' avenue of commentary. We all take part in it, longing for the next like, the next hit, we're all the same...'
'Spotify, letting everyone know what I'm listening to. I still listen to Bonobo sometimes.'
'Another vague comment, Facebook wall flirting, or an innocent comment taken out of context? The internet is terrible for that; the contextless conversation. As soon as 'they' develop ways to interpret your seemingly sarcastic comments on Facebook videos who knows what we're actually saying to each other?'
'Videos, another form of media, posted to Facebook to show the world how active you are, how happy you are, how confident you are.'
'Do albums still have a limit of 300 pictures?'
'Private parties, private events, private nothing. Now that everyone can see what everyone else is doing, what does privacy even mean?'
'When I stopped having my birthday shown 'publicly' online, I changed it to a different day, attempting to throw people off the trail. At the time, my friends still remembered my birthday without Facebook's help. What a time to be alive...'
'People thinking of me, whilst browsing the web. Nice.'
'Pot Farm, the 'cool' version of FarmVille, the Facebook game that allows you to feel edgy in your small bubble of friends. Let's hope none of them are undercover cops!'
'Calling your event a unique and 'kooky' name back then was a big deal. This was my take on the craze'
'Another great name, I wonder whose house was 'free' at the time? Free of what?'
'Every friend being unique is an idea that we should have abandoned long ago.'
'Allowing Facebook to access my location wasn't my first mistake, and definitely won't be my last.'
'The always inevitable status declaring 'here's a link to some art I did one time'. I need those likes to survive.'
'I used to make art about my 'emotions'. I don't really do that anymore.'
'I don't like it when people post on my profile anymore, ruining the clean environment that's constantly being curated and cleaned on a daily basis.'
'The exhibition that changed me, opening my eyes and my 'mind'. Me and everyone else who visited that exhibition anyway.'
'Moving to London; all those new, exciting, overwhelming experiences. You change, they change, I change. How exasperating.'
'Yet again, shaming by incessantly posting to my wall. I probably paid them back swiftly after this occurred.'
'Getting 'deep' at half 10 in the evening. It's very easy to feel powerful sitting behind a social media facade, behind your dusty screen... Fuck the screen, fuck the internet.'
'Do they really care how I am, when posting publicly to my wall? Or do they only care about people perceiving them to care?'
'Wow, what a deep and meaningful name for an artwork.'
'Consistency is key, apparently.'
'How fucking poignant'
'Thoughts sent out to the ether at 05:59 on a Thursday are always predictable.'
'Is this about the infamous 'dark web' or am I just interested in a pool party featuring spiders? Probably the former.'
'Why hasn't SoundCloud been killed off already?'
'Random people on the internet, probably.'
'I hate how Facebook makes you have 'proper' punctuation on events.'
'It seems like I have a thing for getting 'emotional' on Thursday mornings, how strange. Perhaps a pattern will emerge? *Shrugs* does anyone care anyway?'
'When the 'apocalypse' happens, where will you be without the internet? Fucked.'
'Welcome to 2k17.'
'There's a lot to be said, but who can actually be bothered to fucking say it?'
'Getting grey, and a little sleepy now.'
'I'm currently listening to my neighbour playing some sort of musical instrument, I remember the sound from many years ago, but can't quite find the name of the instrument from within my head. Maybe a xylophone?'
'Thinking about gender in 2k17, how original.'
'Not a Thursday, but a Monday night revelation! How fascinating...'
'Wowee, who didn't see that coming?'
'Because sighing solves everything.'
'Sometimes, a lot of the time, simply being able to 'look up' and just relax, allowing your eyes to float away from the persistent pang of social media, is riveting. I live below a popular flight path it seems. You learn a lot when you take, or rather rip, your eyes from the small screen of your mobile device.'
'Is it, though? Having your brain slowly distorted and condensed? Is that fun for you? Inducing the news from snippets on your news feed, re-blogging, re-tweeting, having only read the title of the article that's already been shared thousands of times by people just like you, eager to please but unable to learn. Why am I any better? I still use social media, I still click on these in depth articles, leaving the tab open for weeks on end, hoping that I'll eventually 'find the time' to read it, even though I've been flicking through my Facebook feed for over an hour now, having learned nothing. Fuck this, fuck the rat race, fuck conforming to being drip fed information, fuck everything.'
'Gone, but not forgotten.'