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transformation & evolution online

per my last blog post: a message i sent to a friend the other day:

"but yeah, i'm someone who likes to reinvent themselves feels unfair that they (They) get to just Store my Past Incarnations in a server somewhere"

when i wrote that message to my friend keshy, i was thinking about data collection & harvesting (my incarnations in a server somewhere that i can't access if i've 'deleted' them, but Somebody can, if i'm ever being arrested), that, but also the mechanisms of the world wide web and of my own life & identity-exploration. i guess i should start by explaining why i used the phrase 'identity-exploration' and not just 'identity;' it's because i believe identity is not a solid thing. a lot of people see identity as a solid thing; not only a solid thing but a solid thing informed by nebulous or ephemeral things that maybe shouldn't define us. like single actions, even repeated patterns, or preferences for certain kinds of stimulation; if you watch anime, you are a fan of anime. why do so many people create profiles for themselves based off of what shows they watch, as if that is how you should know who someone is? do our preferences describe us? if you make something defined as art, you are an artist. what is art? what type of art do you make? are you a pixel artist? a photographer? if you cook, you are a cook. but loads of people cook to eat, to survive, not for any other reason. what if you make art to survive, and not for fame or money? does the 'why' have enough affect on the 'what' to change the labels we use? what happens if, if you'd use all the labels you've acquired from doing what you've done in life or being what you've been, you'd have too many? what happens if you're overwhelmed by the amount of things you've done once they're made to describe you you're made to describe them? there's nothing wrong with nebulous or ephemeral identity itself, until you do chain it to solidity, do you get it? do you get what i'm trying to articulate; that identity is in itself not solid and that is okay until & unless you pretend it isn't? 

these might not be questions anyone else asks of themselves or the social environment around them, but they're the types of questions i ask all the time.

i have a love-hate relationship with making profiles, keeping profiles & keeping blogs, because i find necessity in expressing who i am, and in connecting with others, of course, i am grateful each time i am given opportunities to do so, but i hate the thought that anything about my expressions have to be permanent or static. the descriptors or labels i use in one moment don't have to reflect the next, and yet, that's what i feel i'm sworn to each time i create or edit a profile, or post from any social media site or app. because in a way, i am being sworn to permanence. remember the collection & harvesting i mentioned? "...corralled into globe-spanning data-extraction engines making huge fortunes for a tiny few. Our online spaces are not ecosystems, though tech firms love that word. They’re plantations; highly concentrated and controlled environments, closer kin to the industrial farming of the cattle feedlot or battery chicken farms that madden the creatures trapped within. We all know this. We see it each time we reach for our phones. But what most people have missed is how this concentration reaches deep into the internet’s infrastructure — the pipes and protocols, cables and networks, search engines and browsers. These structures determine how we build and use the internet, now and in the future." "As a top-down, built environment, the internet has become something that is done to us, not something we collectively remake every day." --from Noema Magazine.-- each time you log into any website, not only social media websites but stores, news, games, independent blogs, any website, to do or be anything, your data is saved. your incarnation is kept, and filed away for if they ever want to train an A.I. or, sure, make it easier to find and arrest you. and the law itself changes as often and as deeply as we do, because the law isn't actually there to keep us safe, in practice. and the thing is, before i learned that this is how the web functions now, i wasn't kept from engaging with the thing. i have so many incarnations. different usernames, different names (some old accounts still bearing my 'dead name'), different pronouns, different person, to me, but same body, same trail of data. same devices. i have so many incarnations, all vaulted. but not by me. the vault isn't for me. it's for the data storage. i don't have my own vault, i would've hoped i could have one. i would've hoped that my own vault would work like this; i am able to delete things permanently from everyone else's devices and servers but my own. refresh, reset, rekindle. rebuild. new incarnation loading. old one gone for everyone but me. i wish there was encrypted social media, which may sound like an oxymoron, but i digress, i mean, i wish there was a way to stay expressive & connected, when you want, without likes or other artificial, arbitrary points systems, while remaining closed off to those you don't trust. not so in this world. in this world, the www.plantations ensure private accounts aren't private, and once you delete something, it might as well only be gone for you. the opposite of being vaulted, opposite, opposition & acquisition. and there's nothing i can do.

when i try to explain how badly i want all this data from past, meant-as-ephemeral expressions of identity or identities (something something plurality/dissociation/trauma) gone, i'm met with the cold, hard truth that there's nothing i can do.

it's like being in a bathtub trying to get dirt off of you but it keeps piling on and on and on and on and on and on and on. you just can't wash it off.

if i can't wash it off, i'm going to try and clog the drain with it, but until then,

and during, and after,

who am i? what expressions remain?

am i what i like? am i what i listen to? am i what i watch? am i what i read? am i what i buy? am i what i consume? am i appropriately normal? am i lovably unique? am i--? oh, but;

am i an artist? a writer?

what is my username today?

5 Kudos


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