In “Privacy ‘You have one identity,’” a chapter from David Kirkpatrick’s The Facebook Effect, issues of privacy in the public domain are addressed. The centrality of Facebook as a social artefact, positions it as the main object of inquiry for Kirkpatrick’s discussion. The chapter opens with the question: “How much of ourselves should we show the world?” (199). With the aid of various Facebook employees past and present, as well as technology experts, writers, and examples from news media, Kirkpatrick attempts to propose possible answers to such a tendentious question.
What is also amiss in Kirkpatrick’s discussion is a clear definition of what Facebook is or should be. If Facebook is attempting to solidify an “authentic” identity for each of its users, how does it differ from other social networking sites? If the News Feed telescopes each user’s various identities, from whatever context, into the same stream of information (211), what does that say about how we choose to construct said identities? In “Approaching Genre,” John Frow makes an important point about identity, albeit indirectly. Using Jacques Derrida’s “The Law of Genre,” he signals that “every text participates in one or several genres, there is no genreless text, there is always a genre and genres, yet such participation never amounts to belonging” (25). Facebook users are participating in the writing of the self within different contexts, but does that participation amount to a singular “authentic identity”? Can something such as the News Feed-as-metagenre, transform unstable contextual participation into identifiable belonging?
Frow, John. “Approaching Genre.” Genre. The New Critical Idiom, series ed. John
Drakakis. London: Routledge, 2006. 7-28.
Kirkpatrick, David. “Privacy ‘You have one identity.’” The Facebook Effect. New York:
Simon and Schuster, 2010. 199-214.