My Big Head:
Reading Face in Light of Cyber Subjectivity
Tracing Humanity in the Glow of my Computer Screen
1. Until recently, I had no idea that a “face book” is a thing. Like a physical thing. Like a book
with faces in it that faceless people compile to keep track of you or maybe just to look at
because they have no face. And I have a hunch that I’m not the only faced-individual who
blindly assumes the infamous cyber network is that original compilation.
2. Whenever I open up my laptop, I see a shiny reflection of my face in the black screen before it
lights up with an artistic photo that I stole from Pinterest and set as my desktop background.
Between the time of unfolding the screen and waiting for it to light up, I somehow always
have time to adjust it to alter my reflection ever so slightly. Word to the wise and/or vain:
tilting your laptop screen toward you makes your eyes look bigger and your neck look
narrower. It’s magical and coercive and I call it the Bighead Aesthetic.
Based on my own experiences with Facebook and critical theory, I have come to view
online social networking as an addictive and stimulating performance of everyday life. I am
confident that my cyber experiences offer a somewhat diverse and stratified look at Facebook,
based on the fact that I, like many popular tweens these days, have hundreds of friends. While I
cannot say I know half of them, I have often spent a good thirty minutes of my day trying to
impress all of them by choosing a profile picture that makes my face look doe-eyed and
effortless. I usually spend the next thirty minutes browsing my other profile photos, waiting for
someone to make a flirty comment on the new pic. OMG you’re gorgeous, girl! Thank you, I
In fact, I know my cyber self quite well. I might go so far to compare my Facebook habits
with Erving Goffman’s face work, Jennifer Parker-Starbuck’s cyborg theater, and Michel de
Certeau’s tactics of the quotidien. This is probably because Facebook is a performance with
guaranteed spectatorship. If none of my 1500 intimate acquaintances appreciate my sexy face, I
alone can still witness my own photoshopped glory. In this essay I intend to explore the
phenomenon of physical face in virtual space, the political implications of cyber subjectivity, and
the relationship of self and cyborg as it applies to the question of authenticity in a technological
Face in Virtual Space
Daily presentation in the cyber world is both subjective and subjected. The way
individuals present themselves is dependent on their own preferences. Each Facebook user gets
to direct their own show, selecting which photos or phrases to post, tag, or remove. In addition,
the Facebook profile picture—commonly a head shot—may or may not be an accurate
representation of the subject. (My little sister may or may not have Justin Bieber as her profile
photo.) Its contribution to the problem of cyber friend-confusion aside, the autonomous nature
of the Facebook photo may also add a new dimension to the sociological application of face.
In Interaction Ritual, Erving Goffman introduces his use of the term by defining it as “the
positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has
taken during a particular contact.”1 For Goffman, the individual interacts with others in a way
that will save, maintain, or gain face. I might argue that online networking keeps in tact many of
these same interaction goals. I would also argue that cyber space dictates a different set of
1 Goffman, Erving. Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior. Toronto: Random House, 1967. 5.
actions and expectations for face. Goffman describes the physical ritual of social interaction in
terms of face work, which seems to include an infinite number of tactics: excuse-making,
smiling, bitchiness, joking.2 However, many tactics appear dependent on plastic performance,
those physical designations that determine face in the moment but are subject to the ephemeral
nature of liveness. In direct contrast, interacting virtually is at once less plastic and less live.
Social interaction on Facebook leaves textual traces—automatic imprints on the web archive, at
once readable and permanent3 on a certain level. Moreover, even “live” interactions like chat
messaging or status updating have a greater element of mediation.
Creating and communicating face via Facebook appears now more permanent but more
easily controlled. It lacks the improvisational qualities associated with Goffman’s traditional
mechanisms. As such, it also lacks the realness of physical interaction. Unlike reality in the
bounds of bodily presence, virtual reality can be black and white or larger than life. Indeed, I
would venture a guess that most Facebook users have posted edited photos on their profile. (I
dare any web stalker to find a zit or wrinkle on my Facebook complexion.) But even without the
help of Photoshop, digital cameras can do magic for the size and proportion of cyber faces. Just
like my nifty trick with the computer screen, photos taken with a downward-tilted camera held
above the head renders a svelte frame. Popularly dubbed the “Myspace photo”4 (before Myspace
became Facebook-space or maybe before Facebook became my space), this profile shot has long
been a harbinger of networking prowess on the virtual timetable. In effect, Facebook harbors a
large collection of big heads and small bodies. Voilà: the Bighead Aesthetic.
2 Ibid. 25.
3 Permanent as tangible or material, i.e. printable photos, written words, etc.
4 Urban Dictionary. “Myspace Photo.” Accessed
February 21, 2012.
It comes as no coincidence that the trend of bigger heads is a double entendre. Not only
does the Myspace photo display an increased ratio of actual heads to bodies, it corresponds with
a common cyber attitude which is quite literally puffed up. Online profiles are about the
individual subject foremost. I belong to this group; I have these friends; I played this game.
Even if she befriended him or he liked her photo, it is all in relation to my online preferences. If I
do not want to know that my cousin got married, I simply unsubscribe from her. I know only
what I want to know and interact only with whom I choose. This standard for interaction extends
to self-reflection—if I do not want to see a photo in which I look chubby, I simply untag it.
Bighead tells me that I have a right to forget5 that I am flawed in those ways only humans could
be. That photo shows my muffin top • I do not want to see my muffin top • I untag the photo •
I do not have a muffin top. I already said this, but let me reiterate: it’s magic.
Newsflash and segue back to this paper: Facebook is certainly about face, if not entirely
in the traditional Goffmanian sense. More specifically, Facebook is more about face and less
about bodies (that means you, muffin top). Furthermore, presenting face online as opposed to
presenting face physically becomes a matter of performance. Virtual face work is a different kind
of performance. It is mediated not only by the human, but by the machine—the camera, the
computer screen, or the keyboard. Still, it differs from other kinds of online interaction (like
email exchange) in its level of liveness—it lives in a space of in between, a fold between virtual
presence and tangible artifact. Consequently, Facebook face exists as a hybrid of physical and
5 NPR Blog. “Is the Right to be Forgotten the Biggest Threat to Free Speech on the Internet?”
blogs/krulwich/2012/02/23/147289169. Accessed February 28, 2012.
Face becomes at once authentic and artificial. The muffin-top photo is indeed a
representation of me, but I choose not to identify with that photo. Instead, I choose to save face
by using my computer to delete exposure of bodily flaws from my profile. The body I wish to
display for myself and others is contingent on the capabilities of my keyboard. In this sense, I am
equal parts human and machine, enthusiastically subjecting my face to the dimensions of space
between the typing of my own fingers and the click of another’s mouse. Thus, the cyber subject
seems a tidy fulfillment of cyborg prophecy: “A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of
machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.”6
On Subjects, Cyborgs, and Politics
Performance of the cyber subject becomes a utopic kind of face work: interaction
abstracted from real-world relationships to mediate, protect, and perfect face. Jennifer Parker-
Theorizations of corporeal intersections with multimedia could be considered becomingscyborg,
or becomings-technologized as they strive to push beyond aesthetically driven
uses of film, television, and projections on stage and emphasize and question the
relationships between the technology and the live. These projects are fruitful explorations
toward the shifting relationship that humanity has with technology.7
My theorization is this: online networking—okay, Facebook—is one such corporeal intersection
that, when explored academically, is a “fruitful exploration.” That said, let me expound on why
the cyber subject is indeed the cyborg.
The cyborg is a myth—a subject constructed by the collectivity of postmodern thought
and text. The cyborg is not just a hybrid of human and machine, it is a hybrid of the real and the
6 Donna Haraway. "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth
Century." Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991. 149.
7 Parker-Starbuck, Jennifer. 2006. Becoming-Animate: On the Performed Limits of “Human.” Theatre Journal 58,
no. 4 (December): 651.
imagined. The Facebook profile is a similar mythic interface. The cyber subject is constructed
by a certain consensus of modern online etiquette and understanding of virtual communication.
Moreover, users build their profile by combining the gadgetry of technology with the pageantry
of social life. The profile becomes a cyborg in that it embodies both the characteristics of the
computer world (non-discriminating perception of other subjects; a lifespan lacking birth and
death; infinite capabilities to share, learn, progress) and the human world (affect, personality,
relationships, organic changes).
You may note that I just used the word “embodied” to describe a profile page. Weird—I
just spent the previous section negating the importance of bodies on Facebook. But perhaps the
negation of human bodies forms a different kind of body—a disconnected head that emerges
when technology becomes animate. Think of this cinematic image: large screens picturing
talking heads à la 1984 or V for Vendetta. Hmmm... perhaps Bighead is becoming less of an
aesthetic and more of a regime.8 And as Haraway so clearly outlines, cyborg performance is
inherently political.9 The face work or tactics that animate Facebook-as-cyborg-theater become
dictates of the collective totalitarian self—the ever present I in virtual interaction.
Still, Bighead tells me that I am better than that—better than a lowly subject of a
mysteriously powerful face. Rather, Facebook evidences my freedom! When editing my profile
or stalking my sister, I never sense that the intention of my performance is predetermined. I
choose to thrust myself—my human self represented by my face —onto the screens and into the
bedrooms of friends using a cyborgean method of performance. Ironically though, it appears that
8 A Rancière moment, perhaps?
9 Donna Haraway. "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth
Century." Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991. 150.
any attempt to project myself in this way serves only to strengthen my slavery to Bighead
himself (herself?). Given this conundrum, I become blind to my own oppression.
As much as it pains me to note, I am not the only cyborg online. In fact, it might be more
fair for me to evaluate the performance tactics of another big-headed individual to illustrate
better the everyday cyborg theater. I propose we take a look at someone else’s Facebook drama.
Reading Someone Else’s Face: Bighead’s Tactics
My roommate is a part-time ballerina and a full-time teenager. Her situation is especially
unique for any 17-year-old, but her overall behaviors are certainly age-appropriate. (Read: she
has no concept of cleanliness or curfew.) Although this roommate lives with peers instead of
family members, she speaks with her family every day and has a close, if sometimes volatile,
relationship with her mother. Moreover, I might argue that her preoccupation with mermaids and
vampires indicate clear parallels to many American females her age.10 Most importantly, though,
she must spend around five hours a day checking social media websites. I might classify her as a
Facebook-aholic and the ultimate case study for the performance of cyber subjectivity. One
specific encounter with this roommate stands out in my mind as a strip of behavior that appears
particularly indicative of the quintessential tactics of a bighead.11
I must have dozed off on the couch. As suddenly as I had remember sinking into the
crack of a dirty cushion, I am awoken by the shrill voice and tangle of limbs that is ballerina-
roommate. Eyes on the computer screen in her lap and ears attuned to the phone in her hand, she
in in both the throws of an argument and some kind of Facebook interaction. I think to myself
10 O’Quinn, Elaine J. 2004. Vampires, Changelings, and Mutant Teens. The Alan Review 31, no. 4.
11 I have now decided to adopt the term for reference to individual subjects—perhaps evidence in itself of just how
appropriate it is to do this...
that If I could restage a scene from a Disney Channel Original Movie or ABC Family Television
special, it might look like this. Her side of the conversation: Whatever... yeah, right... you don’t
even know... I hate you. Sometimes she holds the phone away from her ear, shifting her energies
and focus toward the computer. More often than not, though, she seems able to scroll with one
hand and facilitate her argument with the other.
I wait for a pause in the action to extract myself from the situation unnoticed. No such
luck. I tighten my core in preparation for a quick exit, but the phone call ends abruptly and I
make awkward eye contact with Ballerina Barbie before I can fully stand. I think I smile or make
some kind of facial expression that tries to say, “No, no—it’s totally cool that I just witnessed
that whole thing.” Cue retreat to bedroom.
Relieved to be at least one wall away from any leftover tension, I hop on my bed and
reach for my laptop. I flip open the screen to a Facebook newsfeed, cursing the bad timing of my
nap and procrastinating further any homework I should have gotten done in the last hour. I
peruse the homepage, feeling guilty for not being at the library and feeling weird about
witnessing my roommate’s interaction. The screen refreshes and I see a status update from the
room I just left: ugh just had the biggest fight with my mom she is sooooo annoying i hate her.
Turns out I’m not the only one who witnessed the event.
To better understand the cyber subject, we look to its performance. To use Certeau-ian
rhetoric, we look at the tactics to understand the practice of the strategy. Viewing Facebook as
the institution or strategy through which the cyber subject becomes cyborg, the tactics are in the
becoming: using cameras and editing software to perfect the virtual image, interacting socially
via the keyboard or the webcam, displaying varying levels of personal information to construct
an online profile. Comparitively, if Facebook is Bighead’s body politic, performance contained
therein constitutes the terms of subjectivity. According to the rules of Facebook, your profile is
about you—your preferences, your relationships, your face. Bighead’s strategy? Create lots of
bigheads—individuals subject entirely to the pursuit of projecting personal face online. How?
Building profiles. Publishing information. Updating others.
My roommate’s performance serves an example of the ways in which Bighead
accomplishes his strategy. I cannot imagine that Ballerina would want to perform that episode in
front of an audience at the Met, but she had no problem sharing it with thousands on Facebook.
Here, Bighead’s tactic reduces raw physical emotion to a 16-word status update. My roommate’s
performance transformed her complex interaction into a single phrase that would unlikely stir the
emotions or emoticons of any Facebook heart. In doing so, she also created or maintained her
cyber face and coerced others to acknowledge it. In other words, her tactical approach reaffirmed
her online existence as simply one of the faceless 15 million angst-ridden teens whose parents
are out to destroy them or make a predictable made-for-television movie.
My involvement, or rather uninvolvement, in the situation evidences also the
aforementioned cyber subjectivity. I never had a choice to witness the interaction—I would have
witnessed the account online regardless of my decision to take a nap on the couch. By choosing
to befriend my roommate on Facebook, I lost the ability to stay out of her personal business. So
unsubscribe from her! Or better yet, unfriend her! And yet, this potential countertactic to skirt
the burden of Bighead’s rules serves only my own big head. I would unfriend her because this
institution is not about her or her painfully teenage relationship with her mother; it is about my
big head. Once again, I am his blind subject. That sneaky bastard. On such tactics, Michel de
Certeau so aptly notes that “sly as fox and twice as quick: there are countless ways of ‘making
do.’”12 In this case, any tactic or countertactic performed by the user—friending, unfriending,
following, reading, subscribing, clicking—seems to make do for the Bighead Regime.
And here, I seem to have lost myself. Quite literally, though—where is the self in cyber
subjectivity? The cyborg I, although resolutely individual to the point of alienation, is not the I
that I speak or even write for. It is an abstracted self—void of physicality, emotion, tangibility,
energy, or natural rhythms. In becoming-technologized I have lost something authentic that no
apparent online performance tactic, be it status-update or friend-subscription, can replace. The
humanity of the cyborg’s human component seems to have been mixed up in the process of
breeding man with machine.
Fortunately for my own existence as student, artist, and thinker, I believe it can be found
in the same place where cyberspace dumps all of its traces: the history folder.
Authenticity in Cyber Existence: Refreshing the Self Narrative
I wrote previously that interaction on Facebook exists in the fold of artifact and liveness.
It is not live per se as it is necessarily mediated by technological performance tactics. But
notwithstanding the traces it leaves across a menagerie of screens, it exists in a continual state of
change—adding the complex characteristic of ephemerality to relic. Who knows... today’s profile
picture may be gone tomorrow. In similar fashion, the Facebook self exists in the human story
born of performance in this intersection of human creativity and computer technology.
To clear the air of any previous uses of the term, let me better define self as it applies to
this section. I am now referring to the “real” component of Facebook subjectivity. As we have
12 Certeau, Michel de. Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. 29.
determined that the cyber subject is a cyborg, its existence must be somewhat human or animal
and materially real accordingly. It follows that I use the word self to constitute that part of cyber
existence that is built on human initiative. I lose my self when I become subject wholly to the
technological aesthetic that is Facebook, at which point the human behind the screen no longer
makes up part of the subject. In other words, when my human experience is no longer a
reflection or construction of my physical life (interactions, relationships, personality) but rather a
means to Facebook ends, I am truly the product of a becoming-technologized—my head
permanently cast into the mold of the unnaturally large. Existential crisis: Can I lose (or have I
lost?) my human essence by becoming cyber subject?
Let me have a moment or two. No, really... let me channel Parker-Starbuck here by taking
time to examine the “moments that have slowed down my frenetic pace of life enough to allow a
pause, a space in which to view not only technology, but animality.”13 Where has my nontechnologized
self gone in the process of constructing my cyber face? How can I reclaim my
humanness or retain what I have left when I seem to have chosen to subject my self to the
*** PAUSE ***
I find my answers in this moment of reflection—the moment when I pause to click on the history
tab inside my brain or on my screen, recalling the narrative of my own becoming. I discover that
13 Parker-Starbuck, Jennifer. 2006. Becoming-Animate: On the Performed Limits of “Human.” Theatre Journal 58,
no. 4 (December): 650.
notwithstanding the current size of my head, my technologization is a personal narrative. In fact,
all of my cyber performance tactics are the reflection of a human story.
I stand here as witness that my roommate’s totally-awful-and-obnoxious status update
was a reflection of human interaction. Granted it is a mediated reflection, an empty abstraction;
but it cannot escape the living qualities of its genesis. Just as the textual traces of the event exist
somewhere in that cyber between-ness of live and mediated, the human roommate-self exists in
the story that birthed a sequence of cyber performance tactics. Here, the human self (what I
would consider the real or authentic self) weaves the material with which the cyber self folds into
a technologized existence. Plainly stated, face work on Facebook must first emerge from a
history of narratives that are human. Real or imagined, these stories are the means of
technological animation. Without them, Bighead could never swell up to the size of his current
I am not sure whether to be excited or dismayed by this realization. Does it indicate the
inevitable demise of the personal narrative into a floating abstraction of cyber space?
Maybe. But in the process of acheiving a technologized face, the gap between physical
and virtual performance creates an interstitial pause. Bighead cannot deny that there exists a
minute stutter in time between the typing of words and the posted status update. In this moment,
the human story (whether about myself or my adorable roommate or her Disney Channel mom)
resonates in a space that is without dominion. It is a space determined neither by political tactics
nor human control. For a nanosecond, the narrative belongs only to the pause in which it has
been placed. We see (or rather do not see, but are aware of) what Parker-Starbuck describes as
moments that “expand the performed limits of the human and expose a becoming-animate, a
condition of sensory attunement—palpable and vibrant—that reveals the interrelationships and
traces left between animal, human, and machine.”14
A clearer way to picture this moment might be to envision the image of refreshing a
screen. After you refresh your Facebook newsfeed, the computer screen goes blank. After a blank
blink or two, a different newsfeed pops up to replace its predecessor. For my own convenience, I
would like to think that the blank screen represents a time when the status updates are freed from
our panoptic screens to drift around the soft drives a little before going to rest in the digital
archives with their status-update-ancestors. As the translucent remains of narrative and
performance waft around the pixels of computer atmosphere, they lose Bighead’s imposed
identity and exist simply as traces of a collective human story. They are not human, animal,
machine, or a cyborg hybrid of these—they are just the relics of culture and people and
interaction and society and beingness. Most importantly—for the sake of my existential crisis,
that is—the freed narratives do not lose their textuality. Even when making their final transition
from soft drive to hard, they pulse through our computer innards as bits of language. If I spoke
Notwithstanding, let me point out that even in their between state, the stories are in circulation
through language. Now to answer my previous question—is my essence lost in translation? Not
as long as there is a medium to record my narrative when I refresh my screen.
The Secret: Real Countertactics in Face(book) Work
Bighead does not want you to know that there are countertactics that actually undermine
his regime. (And I know about these because, obviously, I am a bigwig in the bighead
14 Parker-Starbuck, Jennifer. 2006. Becoming-Animate: On the Performed Limits of “Human.” Theatre Journal 58,
no. 4 (December): 650.
department.) The fact that all face work tactics appear to serve Bighead directly or indirectly is
all part of his master strategy. The big secret is that all cyber subjects control the refresh button.
Here, you might argue that refreshing the screen serves your purposes which serves Bighead’s
purposes. But if you buy into the “freed narrative” bit, you will realize that your purposes do not
have to be Bighead’s. You cannot unconsciouly choose to become his subject when you have
consciously chosen not to be. I would go as far to say that your purposes become our purposes
when you learn how to constantly refresh the narrative.
What would happen to Bighead if the screen was in a constant state of refresh? To start
with, the screen itself would always be blank. Read: NO big heads. No big heads = no bigheads
= no Bighead. A state of constant refresh would be a perfect state of limbo—no ownership, no
intentionality. This is not to say that the self disappears. Then, you might wonder, what does this
make me? Where do I go? That’s just it. I go. “I” goes away and the remaining pieces that are
humane and dignified float with the other remains in a place of presence before becoming part of
the archives. Thus, the self exists as a collective in the medium of computer-speak. The computer
language circulates a self that is selfless in terms of the technologized individual. In other words,
all I have to do to become a beautiful part of an authentic collectivity that defies the now-distopic
Facebook world is keep my screen in a constant state of refresh.
Yeah. Right. It is certainly a nice thought, but how is this subjectivity any different than
the political terms of another cyber regime?
Agency. Clicking “refresh” takes initiative. Granted, the computer will do it for you about
every 30 seconds if you choose not to. But this is my point! Bighead wants to refresh the screen
for you—it means that you don’t have to be an active subject. His terms of subjectivity become a
bit more like objectivity; it is a passive, sponge-like subjectivity. Even when you choose to
unfriend another subject, Bighead refreshes your minifeed to reflect that. Face(book) work is not
much work at all when the screen changes twice a minute in a neverending PowerPoint
presentation. It leaves no space for our stories, but just enough room for a lot of flashing
glimpses of my abstracted interaction and your emotionless event—alienated occurrences in the
doldrum timeline of the cyber quotidian.
In a brave new world, cyber subjects will assert their humanity by taking the initiative to
release narratives into a collective space by consciously refreshing their screens. We will practice
authentic agency, not the warped pseudo-agency that Bighead leads us to think is freewill. And
perhaps this newfound agency will allow us to choose to not be part of the cyber quotidian. Or
maybe it will allow us to become simply more conscious cyborgs, aware of our own egotistical
tendencies to use technology as a personal slave. In either case, the change will be refreshing:
more stories, more humans, more freedom. Ideally, Facebook will go back to being just a thing
and heads will return to their authentic size, encouraging users to question the validity and
meaning of cyber face and interaction.
Jk. Lol. I have an alternate ending for visionaries and thinkers who are ready to take the
plunge into the space and time reality that is the future of cyberness. Drumroll, please...
My Big Head: Why You Should Elect Me to be the Next Big Thing
If the Facebook state can be undermined by a collective consciousness, what gives me the
position to inform you so? Am I pretentious enough to speak for this collectivity? Yes. I am. I am
even pretentious enough to use the words of Pierre Bourdieu to reinforce my statement:
By forcing one to discover externality at the heart of internality, banality in the illusion of
rarity, the common in the pursuit of the unique, sociology does more than denounce all
the impostures of egoistic narcissism; it offer perhaps the only means of contributing, if
only through awareness of determinations, to the construction, otherwise abandoned to
the forces of the world, of something like a subject.15
If you have any shred of faith in collective mojo, you will realize that I (as in myself, not the
Facebook-appropriated version) can represent us as well as anyone else. I am confident in my
ability to share the human narrative, to the point that I cannot even stop talking about myself in
this paper. I will now use this subject as a lead in to my political vision for the cyber future. I
think that I (again, as in myself) am the next Big Thing to replace big faces, heads, and profiles.
Having revealed myself, let me persuade you why I am qualified to be in this position:
1. I am self aware.
2. I like to tell all kinds of stories: true, false, big, little, fun, sad, and stupid.
3. I recognize that we are preserved in the language archives of cyber space and that the space of
time between abstracting and publishing ourselves through this medium is a free one. I like to
think of it as a demilitarized zone.
4. My ideas are just as effective as Bighead’s, but I speak for everyone.
5. I am just as egotistical as all of you.
Telling my story has helped me realize the value of myself in cyber space. It has become
a beautiful way for me to thrust my humanity and humanness into a largely cyborg-run state. It
15 Bourdieu, Pierre. The Logic of Practice. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990. 21.
has brought me to a new level of consciousness—consciousness of those things I cannot control
(the stutters in cyber time), and consciousness of those things I can (refreshing the screen). As
the next Big Thing, I intend to refresh my narrative constantly, helping us all achieve a more
respectable foothold in cyber existence. You will all be my subjects together in me. No more
technological alienation, just a single proportional profile on the new shared experience called
Thingbook will openly question my authentic existence by explicitly warning all users
that my profile may be fact or fiction. It will also send a reminder to you every thirty seconds to
refresh your screen—whether or not you actually refresh the screen will be your choice.
Thingbook will be the ultimate tool of democratic agency. You will not be subject to a Bigheaded
you; you will be subject to me. And I (not the I of Bighead days) will represent us through a
well-archived and thickly-described series of personal narratives. After each status update, users
will be encouraged to think about the validity of that perspective and how accurately it reflects
them. However, no users will be permitted to comment as my perspective stands in as a
democratic representation of everyone’s perspective. In effect, you will be acutely aware of your
oppression as individuals—an effective way to stick it to the man or woman that was once
Bighead or a bighead version of you.
Thank you for your time. Remember that every vote counts! Cue the new national
anthem, sung as a single-note chant. (Lyrics adapted from Sarah Bakewell.16)
Death can have a friendly face, too.
We float into death when we are seduced by it.
16 Bakewell, Sarah. How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer. Kindle
eBooks, 2010. 8.
We never encounter death; we are gone before it arrives.
We die the same way we fall asleep.
We drift away.
Our human existence is attached by a thread.
It rests on the tip of our lips.
Bakewell, Sarah. How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at
an Answer. Kindle eBooks, 2010.
Bourdieu, Pierre. The Logic of Practice. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990.
Certeau, Michel de. Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.
Goffman, Erving. Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior. Toronto: Random
House, 1967. 5.
Haraway, Donna. "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the
Late Twentieth Century." Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New
York: Routledge, 1991. 149-181.
NPR Blog. “Is the Right to be Forgotten the Biggest Threat to Free Speech on the Internet?”
blogs/krulwich/2012/02/23/147289169. Accessed February 28, 2012.
O’Quinn, Elaine J. 2004. Vampires, Changelings, and Mutant Teens. The Alan Review 31, no. 4.
Parker-Starbuck, Jennifer. 2006. Becoming-Animate: On the Performed Limits of “Human.”
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