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iie of the most intoxicating things about Facebook is . tbepossibilityitrepresents fcr reinvention. From our words, toourimage,toour friends, Facebook lets us control the public perceptionofourselveswith an iron-fist that would surelyplease.even KimJong-il. For Facebook's half a billion users, embracing the social media behemoth has given them the opportunity to fashion wittier, prettier,.smarter,sexier and more popular versions of them- selves, largelyfor the benefit of old school friends, former partners and distant cousins who would have trouble picking them out in acrowdedroom. It's interesting to note just how fast we have become schooledinto developing Brand Me forthebenefit of our social media lives. Essentially, we have taken the commercial marketing model and turned it on ourselves, producing a comrnodified version of our lives to retail on Facebook.Identityhasbecome fluid in the digital slipstream, a constantlyrestitched and reworked . composite that we can perpetually adapt with the click of a mouse. The comingrelease of TheSocial Network;;:the film about the birth of Facebook and its creation by the then Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, has

given rise to a certain

tion about how his site has altered our

sociaifabric. Facebook has been accused of

amountofreflec-

veracity there is to the portrayal of Zuc- kerberg by the film's writer, Aaron Sor- kin, there is an irony that a socially disconnected boy created something that gives the entire world an instant hit of faux-popularity and companionship. Reflecting on Zuckerberg's character in an interview with The Daily Beast, Sorkin said: "I identify with somebody wanting to:build an entire world where they get to reinvent themselves. Where they can soda se nsolitude. Where they can do a rewrite and a polish on their own personality." For Sorkin, also the writer and creator of The West Wing, Facebook users are "acting and performing"for an"audi- ence"• When we think about the ironic status updates orpost-holidaysnapswe consciously choose -lookhowthin Iam! Look at.the exotic beach I visited! -we are deliberately making a point about who we are, what values we hold and what is the substance of our lives:,, Social networking sites entice us to create a personal narrative for the benefit ofothers and there is no masking ourunderlying awareness of our online visibility. Or, as a recent paper from University

of California researchers. put it, when we use social networking sites we become

"hyper-focused on

constructing

hyper-elaboratedidentities". But the consequence of our growing seduction byFacebook is that we are becoming increasingly socially and

We fear being out of the

loop, of falling out of step

with our digital clique

We are a nation of social

twisting thewaywe interact with our nearest and not-so-dearest. Countless reactionary diatribes have bemoaned

the. paucity and the cheap-knock-off sort culturally compelled to offer up our lives

of friendship it allegedly offers us. But what Zuckerberg'screationhasdoneJs unwittingly reveal the seam of inset- urity and neediness that ripples beneath the surface. Each time we post, comment or share something, we are

feeding an inner needtobe watched, Arecent survey found that 56 percent

liked and wanted by others. We maybe decades out of school, but we still crave the same schoolyard popularity as a bunch of kindergarten

media addicts.

and ourselves for others. We nowlive more distracted lives because we're checking, updating and commenting in a state oflow-level anxiety. We fear being out of the loop, of falling out of step with our digital clique.

ofFacebookusers saythey "need"to ; check their account at least once a day; 48 per cent of us even check Facebook and Twitter from bed on a daily basis,

children. either during the night or as soon as we

Facebook gives us a fleeting feeling of

wake up.

connection. It's a digital inoculation We are a nation of social media against any creeping sense of disconaddicts. Australia ranks second in the

nection or isolation. Log in, and time and time again, you will instantly find - yourself posited back at the centre of a social universe, giving us a false sense of

buffering from a lonely world. The Somehow, all of the world wide web

power of social media speaks to an has become a stage and we are the

underlying need to feel"like we are the centre of things.

Among the countless column inches devoted to the question ofhowmuch Daniela Elser is a freelance journalist.

world, beating the US and Britain, when it comes to how much time on average we spend on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

players-you and me and 500 million other potential friends.