The Social Network: an art exhibit on its social and psychological ramifications
Social media is an accessible means of interaction among individuals that spans beyond the real and physical world. The connections created in these social networks may be valid representations of reality or a microcosm of a fantasy world ridden with role-playing and appearances. The social network facilitates an individual’s desire, whether conscious or unconscious, to seek validation from his or her connections. A person’s virtual community becomes an audience for his or her own unfolding of identity, where he or she is able to emphasize an ego-ideal, experience an inner fantasy, or work through personal issues in a digital and highly public world. The online profile, along with one’s pre-selected photos, comments and posts, are a self-construction, dependent on how the user may want to view oneself, and to be perceived by others (Toma, 2012; Boyd & Ellison, 2007; Boyd & Donath, 2004, as cited in Internet Communities, Identity and Self-Affirmations).
In this exhibit, I intend to engage the audience in a more reflective journey and dialogue on how the social network has facilitated the attainment of an individual’s need for affirmation. Through online personal interviews and observation, I have created seven distinct profiles of individuals who have experienced a range of issues through social networking such as online dating, bullying, addiction, profile embellishment, stalking, and moralism; and in one way or another, have gained either positive or negative reception from their immediate and extended networks; and have in some instances, fabricated an alternative reality, in order to gain more positive reactions from their peers.
The titles of each profile show descriptions of either a constructed image or a reality. I invite you to participate in the dialogue and decide which of the two descriptions are more real, by casting your vote next to each description.
I likewise invite you to engage in a conversation about your own experience of the social network, and see how our virtual connections have aided us in fashioning a more complex identity, either separate or complementary to our own physical realities.
– Rebie Ramoso, 2012
*All artworks are based on either actual social media profiles or representations of individuals who wish to remain anonymous. Some characters in this exhibit were created based on several interviews. Photo credits given to the original source of the photos.