Has context collapse resulted in decreasing viability of the multifaceted self and are we individually afraid to admit this because we feel trapped and complicit?

Context collapse is the idea that instead of separate spaces in which you operate and may behave contextually differently, you are reduced to broader exposure of most aspects of your life in most scenarios.

Eg, Facebook introduced a situational reckoning for many people whose recreational activities (drinking, partying, board games, tv preferences) were previously privately scoped, but were suddenly tagged in media that everyone (including their boss, etc) could see.


Show thread

@cwebber can't we just reintroduce scope? isn't this what we have de facto done by moving to alts?

· · SubwayTooter · 3 · 1 · 1

@trwnh I think it's possible and even happening in some ways, but is being figured out ad-hoc. Awareness of context collapse and its effects might inform how we choose to design a system to help accommodate for peoples' well-being of identity, I think.

@cwebber @trwnh
Alts (and any context in general) kind of interferes with the 'maximization of attention' philosophy and the 'personal brand' philosophy. It's different on the fediverse where anticapitalism is common, but a lot of people on social media see maintaining an audience as a job (even if they will never make money off it) & only fragment for the sake of sanity. For them, an alt is a place where you post only to friends & then feel guilty for not being productive.

@cwebber @trwnh The thing about alts and different websites and such is that we’re really bad at doing this consciously. Historically we’ve switched these personae or whatever based on physical cues like the place we’re in, the faces we see around us, sights and sounds and smells and… a different browser tab or even look-and-feel of a website is just not engaging all the same reflexive machinery in us.

@trwnh @cwebber to a degree, sure, but this feels like a mitigation more than any kind of real solution, i think?

like: i don't experience too many direct negative effects of this, but i suspect that's because:

a) i've cut myself off from a huge part of social life (along with family connections, community happenings, etc.) just by not being on facebook et al.

b) i've got a job and a place to live where the weirder aspects of my personal life are ignored / safe.

@brennen @trwnh I'm not sure it's always bad, I think that context collapse has also resulted in a *positive* reckoning in some ways; the #metoo movement, in aggregate, can be seen as being facilitated (but not entirely driven by obviously) by a collapse resulting in peoples' shitty behaviors becoming more apparent.

That said, I do think that humans need a certain amount of private contexts for health/well being/personal development too (as you've described making those spaces for yourself!)

@cwebber @brennen @trwnh Earlier (mostly pre-free software) jobs I'd get friend requests from co-workers, even superiors and it's really awkward to not accept. So you get your direct boss, family members and your friends from college all seeing the same feed of your life. Depending on a lot of variables, you may find it difficult to vent about work, talk about who you're dating or even talk about politics -- which gives the impression that those things might not be important topics for you.

@freedeb @cwebber @brennen @trwnh And for school students this may be even more nightmarish. I once overheard a group of teenage boys on a tram who were threatening one of their classmates that they will upload a video of him that his mother and grandmother will see. When I was in school, it used to end as soon as I left the building. Now these environments seem to impose themselves on FB users 24/7 thanks to its "real name" policy.

@setthemfree @freedeb @cwebber @brennen @trwnh on the other hand, stand by your every decision and you'd become invincible

@dpwiz @freedeb @cwebber @brennen @trwnh I don't think that's always a good idea - one should be reevaluating their past decisions according to the new stuff they learn. If I voted for a politician who turned to be a corrupt liar, it doesn't make sense to vote for them again. Or if one becomes aware of flaws of ideology they previously supported, it doesn't make sense to continue to accept it uncritically.

@setthemfree @freedeb @cwebber @brennen @trwnh Yep. It's the second part necessary - a proper type of humility.

"Yes, I did vote in the politician turned corrupt. No, I don't support them anymore, in the light of new information. But, I had no information to decide otherwise at the time."

@cwebber context collapse seems be a zero sum game at best. As much as it enabled calling out shitty behaviour it has made shitty behaviour more acceptable because "everybody" seems to be doing it. For example, would our politicians actually get elected pre-internet if they openly behaved the way they do now?

I don't think context collapse is a mere consequence of technology either. It was intentional on the part of Facebook and Google in particular.

@brennen @trwnh


it's not accidental. Zuboff, amongst others, details the lengths to which they've gone to protect & extend the ability to harvest 'behavioral surplus'

@cwebber @brennen @trwnh

@msh @cwebber @brennen @trwnh

and where I think I have the most overlap with the aims (if not the methods) of 'ethical' license proliferation is on this point

@msh @cwebber @brennen @trwnh

I feel at home w/ my software freedom peeps here because I know they know you can enjoy substantial freedom all by your lonesome, or amongst a select few

but being 'open' doesn't work like that: radical openness feeds radical scrutiny, and it's just tough luck what that does to your soul

@cwebber @brennen @trwnh

Related to your Me Too example, context collapse has happened on Reddit and fuels a remarkable amount of petty drama that drowns out any actual discussion. The transition seems fueled by the move to new Reddit and apps, where subreddit custom CSS no longer identifies them as unique communities. It used to be the community norm that bringing up another’s posting history made you the cyberstalker to be mocked unless it was a notably egregious example, like using posting history to point out that the user who commented “Hitler did nothing wrong” in /r/MLPmature is an actual neo-Nazi and not some low-effort troll. These days, it’s not unexpected to see “what a cute fluffy kitty” replied to with “don’t believe anything this dude says: 93% of his post history is in /r/The_Donald. Time to summon /u/nwordcountbot.”

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Server run by the main developers of the project 🐘 It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!