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Enjoying Social Media

  • Matthew Flisfeder
Chapter

Abstract

In what follows, my central concern is with the contemporary critique of ideology; but my trajectory involves thinking the operation of ideology in socialmedia. By social media, I mean Web-based networksites that, as boyd and Ellison explain, allow people to “(1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.”1 The examples of such sites are familiar by now to many and include blogs and sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. My objective is to think critically about the ideological role of social media in the context of late capitalist consumer society—a society defined by what Slavoj Žižek refers to as the “demise of symbolic efficiency,” what Fredric Jameson has defined as “postmodern,” or what Mark Fisher has more recently referred to as “capitalist realism.”2 Referring as well to Jodi Dean’s pioneering work on a Žižekian approach to online media, particularly her conception of “communicative capitalism,” my aim is to argue that social media provides a good model for thinking about the connection between ideology and enjoyment at a point when digital media makes possible the conditions for the erosion of the subject of desire. In contrast to Dean, though, my claim is that the ideological operation of social media is one that interpellates the subject in relation to desire rather than drive.

Keywords

Social Medium Social Network Site Symbolic Order Capitalist Realism Consumer Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    See Slavoj Žižek, The Ticklish Subject (New York: Verso, 1999);Google Scholar
  2. Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.” New Left Review I 146: 53–92, 1984;Google Scholar
  3. and, Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (Zero Books, 2009).Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Jodi Dean, Publicity’s Secret: How Technoculture Capitalizes on Democracy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell, 2002), 3.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Dean, Blog Theory: Feedback and Capture in the Circuits of Drive (Maiden, MA: Polity, 2010), 31.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Žižek, The Indivisible Remainder: On Schelling and Related Matters (New York: Verso, 1996), 190.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Žižek, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce (New York: Verso, 2009), 10–11.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Žižek notes that “the very ‘positing’ of the big Other is a subjective gesture” and that “the big Other is a virtual entity that exists only through the subject’s presupposition.” One of the arguments that I make here is that, although the postmodern subject is capable of pronouncing the nonexistence of the big Other, she still posits its existence in a displaced way in order to preserve a desire, mediated by fantasy. This gesture of positing the big Other’s existence is, I claim, reified in social media. Žižek, In Defense of Lost Causes (New York: Verso, 2008), 113.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    See Octave Mannoni, Clefs pour l’imaginaire (Paris: Seuil, 1969).Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    McGowan, Out of Time: Desire in Atemporal Cinema (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2011), 11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 21.
    Žižek, Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology (Durham, NC: Duke, 1993), 60.Google Scholar
  12. 25.
    Paul A. Taylor, Žižek and the Media (Maiden, MA: Polity, 2011), 78.Google Scholar
  13. 29.
    Jacques Lacan, The Seminar, Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, 1964–1965. Alan Sheridan, trans. (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1977), 207.Google Scholar
  14. 32.
    Žižek, The Parallax View (Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2006), 303.Google Scholar
  15. 33.
    See Žižek, For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor, 2nd Ed. (New York: Verso, 2002), xci.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Matthew Flisfeder and Louis-Paul Willis 2014

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  • Matthew Flisfeder

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