Participation in Social Media: Authoring Authority


This paper argues that while active participation within social media in the realms of political discourse, exemplified by platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. suggests possible emancipation from tyranny or oppression, there is a lack of critical awareness of the problematic nature of active participation in today’s age of social media. With the form of participation becoming increasingly simulated cybernetically, the purpose of this paper is to raise questions about the complicated nature of participation within social media. The turn to participation, where we are now explicitly invited and expected to interact across a multitude of various social media platforms represent another problematic twist to Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, or to borrow Boris Groys’s term, have contemporary society truly become a ‘spectacle without spectators’? Retracing participation through the lens of artistic praxis from Kaprow’s Happenings to Brechtian Epic theatre, I argue that participation within social media, because of its cybernetic form, is a form of collaboration with the very logic of production in social media. In a way similar to the limits of participatory art, where the act of inviting or allowing participation itself further cements the said artist’s position of authority, the paradoxical nature of authority in social media is likewise similar, for it is precisely the participation of the audience, that allows the existence of social media in the first instance, thus authoring authority.

Author Information
Derrick Ng Guan Lin, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2015
Stream: Humanities - Media

This paper is part of the ACAH2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon