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The interesting thing about touch is that it has two properties: the first, and what I think we discussed most in class, is the property of one’s experience of touching someone else. This is a kind of personal property of touching, in which you touch in order to feel the presence of another (connectivity among strangers, the flaneur, flashmobs, increase in hugging, etc). However, there is also the property of touch which involves touching as a means of impacting, affecting, or influencing another. When you touch someone, you force him or her to have a sensory experience: the one that you impart.

I think this aspect of touching is just as important as the first when it comes to new media, and media flow. In this case our desire to touch can be boiled down to a desire to influence and have power over others. For example, we no longer make Facebook posts purely with the intention of expressing ourselves, but with the added intention of generating as many likes and comments as possible. Because we are aware of Facebook (and the Internet’s) system of control via the promotion of “culturally relevant” information, there has been an explosion of posts which embed Youtube clips and Internet generated images. Users know that these posts will be promoted, and therefore seen by more users, giving the creator of the post the opportunity to “touch” more people, than posts purely involving text. This concept of touch as influence/impact makes more sense in the context of “I touch therefore I am,” because we can now translate its meaning into something along the lines of “My actions have impacts, my actions are felt by others, therefore I am,” which, I think we can argue, is how we are aware that we exist (through the observation that we impact our surroundings). This way of thinking about touch is fairly disturbing. If we are all “out to touch each other,” it is not only because we are searching for intimacy in a world in which we feel further and further alienated from each other, but also because we are want to have power over others.

Furthermore, when we participate in a media platform like Facebook, we are faced with a serious lack of filter options, and do not have control over what appears on our newsfeed, and what does not (the platform itself is in control of the selection process). This means that we have very little control over “who touches us.” Perhaps we are being touched in ways we do not want to be touched in the form of viewing information we have no interest in, or perhaps do not even wish to view. Although Facebook tracks user’s movements to create a profile which it then uses to display “relevant” information on one’s newsfeed, the user is still primarily subject to viewing the personal information of others that the platform has decided to promote. This raises the question, how personal is our personal information? If we post information not for the express purpose of expressing ourselves but to accumulate likes and comments, then can we really say that this information is our own in the sense that we chose to express it? This comes back to the notion of an interface molding content to be compatible with its interface, as we begin to express ourselves in a form we know the platform will promote, subverting our original intention and meaning.

So all together what does this all mean? I think we can see Facebook as a constant war/power struggle in which the user attempts at once to influence others (have his/her internet presence felt) as much as possible, while simultaneously trying to avoid the unwanted touches of others. This is ironic and self-perpetuating, because the user himself, in trying to have the most influence possible, is undoubtedly created “unwanted touches” of his own.