Everyone now wants to know how to remove themselves from social networks. It has become absolutely clear that our relationships to others are mere points in the aggregation of marketing data. Political campaigns, the sale of commodities, the promotion of entertainment – this is the outcome of our expression of likes and affinities. And at what cost? The reward is obvious: we no longer have to tolerate advertisements for things for which we have no interest. Instead our social relations are saturated with public relations. But at least it is all interesting!
Unlike the old days, when we could invent online identities daily, our social networks today require fidelity between our physical self and our online self. The situation is unbearable.
The frightening consequence of it all is that we believe in the value of these networks. We understand perfectly well that our privacy is being renegotiated without our consent; the rules are changing in plain view; but we still participate! It is like a new form of money, something we realize is a myth, but we act like it is real and that is its power. We can’t leave because everyone else is there! Or because we are invested in the myth ourselves.
The question is how do we extract ourselves from this predicament?
Recently, some programmers figured out how to computationally do exactly this. By entering in your username and password, the software would delete as much information as possible, ultimately removing the account itself. It was a radical enough idea to attract the legal attention of Facebook.
This software did not go far enough!
When someone disappears from Facebook, does anyone notice? Does this software retroactively invalidate all of the marketing data that has been collected from the account? Has this person de-dividuated themselves? No, silence has not disrupted the system in the slightest!
Social networks need a social suicide. In the same way that 99.99999% of users on Facebook don’t exist within the cloistered world of one’s home page, an invisible user – one who has committed suicide – is simply a non-factor in the constant and regular computational logic of the thing. The answer isn’t silence, but noise!
Suicide on a social network is a matter of introducing noise into the system. It spreads viruses and misinformation. It makes things less interesting for others. It disrupts the finely calibrated advertising algorithms on which suggestions are made – for friends, groups, institutions, ideas, and so on. Social networking captures, quantifies, and capitalizes on positive feedback. It records and reproduces similarity. Oh yes, everyone is not watching one of three mass-produced choices; but beneath all of the possibilities there is only one choice! The one for you!
A roadmap for an effective Facebook suicide should do some of the following: catching as many viruses as possible; click on as many “Like” buttons as possible; join as many groups as possible; request as many friends as possible. Wherever there is the possibility for action, take it, and take it without any thought whatsoever. Become a machine for clicking! Every click dissolves the virtual double that Facebook has created for you. It disperses you into the digital lives of others you hadn’t thought of communicating with. It confuses your friends. It pulls all those parts of the world that your social network refuses to engage with back into focus, makes it present again.
Invisibility comes in many forms, and on social networks it is the form of a radical overload of information – a maximum participation. No more thought, because every considered click adds to the collaborative filtering algorithms that makes sure everyone continues to like what they like, but in slightly modified form. Click everywhere, click often, and don’t stop until you have disappeared beneath a flood of meaninglessness.
This is a call for suicide, for the abandonment of seriousness and belief. It is a call to reclaim ourselves from the sad version of ourselves that lives in that bloodless village. Don’t become nothing, the singular point defined by an absence, become everything, with everyone else. Drown the system in data and make a new world in the ruins that remain!
Los Angeles, 2010
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