SoThi#1: inflated ego (2018), Interactive data-driven installation
The Inflated ego is the first project of the Social Things series. Social Things are augmented common objects that alter their appearance or functioning according to data received from social media activity. They comment on the divergence between digital and physical identities and the hierarchical relationships developed through social media networks.
Excessive exposition of a curated and deliberately crafted view of the self is a common social-media behavior. The individual promotes a self-enhanced self in order to reach an elevated digital social status admired by peer social media users. This behavior fuels a narcissistic vicious cycle where the individual curates the exposed image in order to gain admiration. This sculpted image receives a number of likes that bolsters the narcissist’s positive self-views and encourage further image-editing. On the other hand, the fellow social media users although being aware that the exposed digital life is not an accurate depiction of real life, they often compare their real lives with the carefully crafted bliss of their digital fellows, cultivating a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). The abbreviation FOMO (added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013) was defined as the anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.
In order to regain the lowered self-esteem, they seek opportunities to enhance their social status, they like a number of social causes without any real action towards their achievement, they share quotes, words, and thoughts without even checking their authenticity, they avoid potential threats to the self-concept, they promote an illustrated version of their lives and selves. They also create shallow but broad networks of digital friends/followers, thus building echo chambers that amplify their views and augment self-satisfaction.
A ‘like’ rewards the ceaseless effort to promote a carefully curated view of the self, reduces social interaction to exchange of emojis, provides an alibi for our sociopolitical passiveness, contributes to the promotion of illustrated digital lives.
However, what is the value of a ‘like’ in the physical world?
A small amount of air is pumped into the inflated ego balloon every time a social media user likes the SoThi facebook page. Facebook ‘likes’ inflate the SoThi’s ego leading to potential destruction: a succession of multiple ‘likes’ can drive the inflated ego to an explosion.
SoThi is a fictitious public figure. Every post of the page is the result of internet searches of generic keywords in databases of public domain pictures and famous quotes. These searches further explore the divergence between physical life and crafted views of digital life. Search results of the words freedom, beauty, balance, happiness, etc return images of fashionable models, cosmetics, yoga practitioners at illustrated beaches and celebrities’ parties. SoThi’s page is edited by multiple editors turning SoThi into a plural identity.
15th Athens Digital Arts Festival (ADAF). Athens 2019 (upcoming)
SoThi Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/SoThi-172204453573025/
inflated ego set-up scheme