Facebook as a Lens A few observations by Jakob Pearce

When we think of social issues today, it is hard not to think of Facebook. One must simply push a few buttons to find controversy, even among one's own group of 'friends'. Facebook is also ubiquitous. Not long ago I once counted myself among the few people left in the world that hadn't jumped aboard the bandwagon (admittedly, I didn't even love the idea of joining Adobe Spark, but I digress). Now that I have experienced Facebook, I'm not sure that my ideas about it have changed. It took me so long to join because I didn't feel that I wanted the aggravation of constantly being bombarded by people's opinions, and I also didn't want to spend my life with my eyes constantly looking at a virtual reality instead of the real one. These days I don't use it much. I've joined simply because it has become as common and necessary as email in this scary world built on networking. I avoid using it as much as I can for the reason that it IS aggravating being bombarded with people's opinions, whether I agree with them or not. However, even if it's not a fun 'place' to spend one's time, it is an excellent way of finding out how people are communicating about today's social issues.

This painting is simply entitled Facebook, and was created by the satirist, Pawel Kuczynski. Kuczynski is an artist from Poland who has created many images that look at a range of cultural issues. Many of them are on the subject of social media, while others look at political, environmental, and many other different issues.

This painting makes an interesting statement about Facebook. The Facebook logo is represented as a periscope being used to view the outside world, by a man willfully staying inside of what looks to be a prison cell. It is clear that this is referring to the use of Facebook as a means of keeping tabs on what other people are communicating on various subjects. However, certain questions are also raised for me when I look at this image. Facebook exists on the Internet, a world that is entirely virtual (although Internet communication can have real consequences). Is the person in the image looking at the virtual world or the real world through this periscope? Is the outdoor part of the image meant to represent the real or physical world? One might interpret that the man is favouring staying inside and looking at Facebook as opposed to going outside, or he might be looking at the virtual world through the lens of Facebook. Another idea is that he might be looking at the real world on the end of other people's devices, with the lens of Facebook (and the general idea of the virtual world) being an intermediate (and perhaps blurring) step. When one goes online, one is looking at the state of the virtual world, but it is also possible to keep the real people in mind, and certainly people don't go outside as much as they once did. Perhaps there are elements of all of these notions in the image. The artist may not have even thought from all or any of these perspectives, but nonetheless they are there to be found by the viewer.

This painting may not directly deal with the issues listed for this assignment, but it does deal with what is perhaps the biggest melting pot in the world where those issues come together. This melting pot is where a good many of us end up spending our time and energy, especially in our current political climate. This image is deceptively important to consider in the culture of today.

Bibliography

Kuczynski, P. (2014, September 22). Facebook [Digital image]. Retrieved February 16, 2017, from https://www.visualnews.com/2014/09/22/satirical-facebook-art-pure-genius/

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