This short blog post on the Moonbat (Big ideas, big politics.) makes the same, limited move that much of what I’ve read before does: Copland begins with a nice little summary of Foucault’s confessional, and then turns to apply it to the Internet, and stops when he gets to corporations and government gaining control of information. The confessional originally consisted of a more explicit power dynamic–an authority like the Catholic Church can cleanse a sinner by pulling his story out of him–but, that culture of confession has entered the modern age, through psychoanalysis, then talk shows, and now “personal diaries posted on the Internet”–rather unnuanced and, again, limited. What is this 2003 when people had web journals?
Of course Copland is quoting Fiona Capp there, and using her thinking to connect the confessional to today, but, this was written in 2013, and Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram/ Tumblr/ even LinkedIn are much more the sites of Internet-users’ “diaries,” and in much more subtle ways, these are confessions.
Copland draws his conclusions from Capp: now, confession is not only “an important part of our life, but it also provides state and corporate power over our information, and the very things we are confession.” He worries about the violations of privacy that these agents are able to get away with now, and the ways that power and control might be gained over us, even when we are not paying attention to our confessing selves online. But, I worry about the ways that we are already self-policing because society and social norms are our audience; I worry about the ways that a culture of confession pulls our stories out of us, in the name of sharing, forcing us to put them into language, subjecting that language to judgment and discipline by society; I worry about the ways that the Internet is not merely a form of explicit, governmental, capitalistic control, but a form of social control of ideas and bodies.