A few weeks ago here on the blog, I wrote a post about portraiture in the age of Facebook. At the conclusion of the piece, I said this:
â€œTo whatever extent our online selves reflect our offline selves, Haugsjaa and Mooreâ€™s portraits make it harrowingly clear that our online profiles and virtual personas have, in a very real sense, escaped us. They/We are up for grabs, ready to be data-mined, added, followed, memed, and retweeted. The opportunity to have oneâ€™s portrait painted was once available only to a select few: typically, the very rich or the very poor. Social recognition used to be a privilege. So why does it now seem more like a punishment?â€
After writing that paragraph, I kind of laughed at myself for being so hyperbolic with my prose, but for some reason I still didnâ€™t want to change it. Over the weekend, I read an article in the business section of the Chicago Tribune that was pretty horrifying, and I felt that it kind of confirmed my suspicions that nowadays, having oneâ€™s photo taken might be more of a punishment than it is a privilege.
I canâ€™t help but think that vile websites like People of Public Transit exist partly as an offshoot of virtual hangouts like Facebook, My Space, and Flickr. I find it more than a little disturbing to think that not only are our images and personas are up for grabs in a social media sense; a lot of people now apparently think (probably because of this) that itâ€™s totally okay, and not at all morally problematic, to snap a strangerâ€™s picture on the subway train and post it Facebook style for their own and othersâ€™ amusement.
Read the Tribâ€™s article about what happened to CTA commuter Jennifer Fastwolf and tell me you donâ€™t agree with me just a teeny bit. (Itâ€™s okay if you donâ€™t though).