ETERNALLY PRESENT & ETERNALLY ABSENT: THE CULTURAL POLITICS OF A THANATOPHOBIC INTERNET AND ITS VISUAL REPRESENTATIONS OF ARTIFICIAL EXISTENCES
Perhaps nothing is more representative of a thanatophobic society than the process of accumulating and storing virtual data in online environments. This process of accumulation and storage of data has become a behavioral and daily activity for many – manifested through a series of different platforms such as FaceBook, Twitter, Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Academia.edu, Skype and Delicious – and is no longer solely a reflection of personal engagements but also of phenomena of post-identity in a post-postmodern society.
The relationships between the user, the data uploaded and the cultural politics of the Internet have created a framework within which personal information, images and surfing behaviors are existential data themselves: a precession of simulacra in Baudrillardian terms. These data are framed within a context of eternal presence/confirmation of existence and memorialization of absence and loss. They are uploaded from the users as a confirmation of presence and existence and commercialized by companies and individuals through the economic exploitation of crowdsourcing in the larger context of globalized post-capitalistic societies.
The paper will address the cultural and political contexts within which the process of data/self uploading generates phenomena of existence beyond death (eternalization) by making it, increasingly so, nearly impossible to delete one’s online existence. The data uploaded also acts as a constant reminder of the absence that is re-played – through photographic, video and digital tools – over and over again as a phenomenon of re-mort and re-morse.