Social media facilitate unprecedented levels of sharing but the social relation is produced in restrictive form. As part of the friendly (inter)face of capitalism, restricted social relations are perpetuated through networks of friends (everyone is more a potential friend rather than enemy), such that antagonistic social relations are masked and the political dimension nullified. 🙂 Evoking Carl Schmitt’s notion of enmity (in The Concept of the Political, of 1927), the political differentiation of friend or enemy lies at the heart of this, and offers a definition of ‘the political’. In order to examine the paradoxes of social media, its promises and its shortcomings, what is required is a more detailed examination of the power relations at work, and how they are configured within informational capitalism, and how social relations and control structures are managed. With no longer a centre of power to be found or established opposition as such, it is clear that the (class) enemy is increasingly hard to identify across its networks, and yet power continues to produce its own vulnerabilities, not least in the context of how social media are changing the face of the representational political process. This is partly evident in the apparent success of various campaigns that hope to influence the outcomes of elections and in the rise of services that offer effective participation in the political process.
- Geoff Cox (UK) is currently a Researcher in Digital Aesthetics, Center for Digital Urban Living, Aarhus University (DK), Associate Curator of Online Projects, Arnolfini (UK), adjunct faculty of Transart Institute (DE/US), and a co-editor of the DATA browser series (with Autonomedia).
Full text (PDF) p. 221-222