The Social Media Account

“While we are encouraged to join a digital stage to perform what seems like a permanency of self-appearance – but is really just a transient, one dimensional version of our self, we experience a hyper-scrutiny and collective backlash as if that one like, comment or message is a revelation of one’s whole self.” – Aaron Gozum

As the public stage of social media becomes an avatar of a facet of our identities that tends to represent and reduce our complexities to a news feed, a profile photo and a timeline, media suggests that American culture has galvanized toward a politics of privacy.

What is privacy and why does our society in the U.S. place a tremendously large value on privacy? Everyday, we are approached by messages on YouTube and WordPress asking if we would want to upgrade to a premium service that provides us the “freedom” of no advertisements as we use their digital services. Some might say, in this sense, privacy in the digital age is growingly becoming a commodity to be consumed. We live in a society where service is commodified and consuming as many commodities is what we consider the modern day achievement of Hegelian mastery.

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Blueprints to Nation Building: Consciousness, Revolution, then Culture?

Fixated on nationhood, Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth, prioritizes a revolutionary call for educating the masses, equipping them and liberating them to build national unity and culture. When we consider the ways in which we can go about building society, there is a common thread of asking how to do so and redefining the relation between nation and culture seems central to this question. In agreement with his aspiration for a democratic nation, I sadly align with Fanon’s decry for violence as necessary because violence seems like the only way to break the colonial cycle of oppression. Some say we are living in a postcolonial era, but I fear that today we seem to still sit comfortably in the second stage of embracing and discovering a common transnational culture—in that intellectual phase that Fanon seems to suggest as Negritude. Beyond breaking the colonial cycle of violence, we nevertheless lack a map toward a postcolonial, post-racial nation.

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Judith Butler talks at NYU Skirball Talks

I had the privilege of listening to Judith Butler speak on February 12th, 2018 and I wanted to take a moment to reflect because I was speechless by the endless conduits and channels in which her conversation inspires and challenges me to consider in my own studies and research. She spoke of how “we live through one another all the time.” As we spread gossip, read the news, tell stories, create art, and build relationships, we vicariously transform each other by reinforcing, challenging, and renegotiating the reality in which we live. I was deeply moved by her interweaving of José Esteban Muñoz with ideas of Freud, Benjamin, and Fanon among many other great thinkers.

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The Challenges of Defining Culture

With Indigenous People’s Day protests filling space in our country every October, this quote stood out to me as a good reminder: “We should accept, frankly, that if we extend our culture we shall change it: some of it offered will be rejected, other parts will be radically criticized” (Williams 1958: 16). From the readings this week regarding cultural studies, this resonated with me as the underlying objective of studying culture.


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