This is my take on panopticism in the virtual world. If you are on social media, you’ve voluntarily become part of a virtual panopticon. I think it is reasonable to say that Social Media is modeled after Bentham’s panopticon.
Just like the users in the cubicles in panopticons and of social media accounts can be singled out anytime. We’ll never know if you’re watched because that information is (at least on most social media sites) inaccessible to us. Even though this isn’t exactly like the power dynamic talked about in Discipline and punish per se because social media users can be both, but it is still important to note that a similar power dynamic is observed between the watcher (watch-er? I d k) and the watched, in a sense that the former is powerful and latter powerless.
Based on personal, yet if I may say highly probable, assumption, the norm on social media that most users are inclined to conform to is the growth of the number of followers, likes, comments and engagement of this sort…which brings me to the next power dynamic…one I like to call ‘follower-following’, whereby power is measured by the number of followers. These aren’t the only power dynamics on social media, there is another I feel is even more important of which I will expound on further into my blog post.
This week’s reading on Discipline and Punish made me think about who is truly powerful when it comes to Social Media. Having been on social media for more than half a decade, and having done two internships in marketing and public relations, I find it hard to convince myself of the idea that Social Media is solely for networking purposes. It is very VERY commercialized. I am nearly 100% sure that most, if not all of us have been exposed to at least one product advertised using influencer marketing.
Bentham’s panopticon facilities surveillance and reform and we see exactly the same model if we dissect the process of social media marketing. Marketers are WATCHING us (the consumers), and then, they try to change us… They watch the way we respond to products, celebrities, global affairs. They see who we follow and find out what interests us. Ultimately they attempt (and most of the time succeed with people weak like me) to ALTER our perception of brands and implement some sort of call-to-action to purchase their products. This is one of the power dynamics on social media that I feel isn’t very obvious but exists. Everyone on social media is powerless and vulnerable when it comes to social media marketing. Influencers have all the followers that I guess to some degree, make them powerful. But nobody is as powerful as the marketers
I’m not sure how coherent this blog post is but it’s kinda my brain dump moment hahaha