Petrina Vasileiou studied History and Ethnology at the Democritus University of Thrace, with Anthropology as an area of specialization. She intends to pursue a Master’s degree in Visual Culture at Lund University, Sweden starting in September 2014. Her current research interests include Anthropology of Art, New Media, Visual Culture, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Identity construction and Communication.
This is an ethnographic discussion of the presentation and the construction of the self in the Internet Era and, more specifically, on Facebook, one of the most popular websites of social interaction.
Facebook falls under the broader context of cyberspace, which, as an object of anthropological interest, belongs to the broader research context of what ethnographers call “multi-sited fields” (Marcus 1995). As Marcus explains, “[…] any ethnography of a cultural formation in the world system is also an ethnography of the system, and therefore cannot be understood only in terms of the conventional single-site mise-en-scene of ethnographic research” (1995: 99). Here, Facebook is approached as such a cultural formation, whose ethnographic study requires a redefinition of key concepts (e.g. time, space, and – in our case – identity) as parts of a multi-sited context.
In addition, cyberspace, from a philosophical point of view, integrates into the concept of virtual reality. Virtual reality, according to Pierre Lévy, is a way for the actual reality to become innovative and powerful, to give space for creation and to open the horizons for potential features and meanings beyond the shallowness of the immediate physical presence (Lévy 1995: 16). However, the virtual should not be considered as the opposite of actual reality. “Virtuality” is not a simple representation but mostly a transition of space, time, the self and other elements that constitute the new conditions of the existence (Lévy 1995: 30). In order for this recreation to be established, the French philosopher (Lévy 1995: 30) introduces in his analysis the term “deterritorialisation” describing the situation when space and time are reinvented in a reality with no common characteristics of what we perceive as actual reality and where the construction of the self occurs in a different context. ... More