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I blogged 2 weeks ago about the ways in which the format of the self-published blog post [and youtube videos, facebook posts, etc.] encourages users to commodify the act of expression.  In section, Fran hinted at Terranova’s “Free Labor” as an important perspective through which to reinterpret my statements.  I think that perspective is extremely useful to question the digital exhibitionism that is so prevalent on social media and other sites of the web.

The format in which information is shared on social media is often in terms of exhibitionism.*  Facebook, for example, prompts users with a variety of personal questions such as, “What’s on your mind?”  These prompts can be further personalized with the user’s name, such as “What’s going on, Grant?”  Personal status that are published are then presented as a commodified object amongst other such objects.  I have argued previously that this commodification of self-presentation encourages user to competitively create content that is interesting to the browsing hunter-killer user.  In part, I am concerned with the way in which this competitive exhibitionism could warp our understandings of social engagement.

Through an understanding of Terranova’s “Free Labor” the function of a competitive digital exhibitionism can further be understood to be an essential component of internet platforms.  The mobilization of social pressures encourages users to create content that would be deemed interesting by peers.  This free source of “interesting” media maintains the internet platforms and the corporations’ profits.