Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

2016

Advisor

Michael Opitz, English

Abstract

We live in the Age of Information: a time when technology has advanced in speed and the number of ways people can communicate has increased. Social media is one such advancement; this thesis will focus specifically on the consequences of the site Facebook. The mission statement of the Facebook company is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” While Facebook serves as a document of its users’ lives, through its unique process of documentation, Facebook alienates the user from the image of herself that she intended to create. This thesis uses the works of theorists like Gregory Bateson and Walter Benjamin to demonstrate how communication on Facebook lacks part of the necessary unconscious aspects of communication, and therefore users cannot fully understand each other, despite a strong face-to-face connection. The thesis also explores how the Facebook algorithm utilizes personal information about the user in order to shape individual profiles, a job that the user assumes to have sole control over. Karl Marx’s theory of alienation is then applied to explain how users have been commodified in an alienating and barbaric process.