“… Brought Me Here”

by Beauchamp Art

YouTube and other media content users demonstrate their connectivity by expressing the route through which they have travel to reach the current local by declaring eagerly what brought them to particular online destinations, by commenting on videos “…brought me here”. Much as travellers recount their journey readily to those willing to receive it when they arrive at their final destination. There is a pride in the capacity to transverse (cyber) space effectively and efficiently, to satisfy the pattern-finding instinct, and demonstrate the capacity to find connections between subject areas, and expression companionship to those who travel along similar routes, from similar origins.

Whereas with the above example, the desire to be publicly associated with the connection between two points of cultural interest is indicated by one user saying “Donnie Darko brought me here” below the music video for Gary Jules’ cover of Tears for Fears’ Mad World, popularised by its use in the final scene of the film Donnie Darko; the eponymous figure who is lead by a hallucinatory rabbit down a dark and uncanny hole.

This attitude may be seen to illustrate the pride of the user in their  technology use and also a form of nationalism, or at lest basic tribalism that may rapidly emerge. If, for example, one group of users find their way to a particular video ‘via’ (through a series of shared networked paths) from point ‘A’, and another arrive from point ‘B’; to contrasting initial articles resulting in the same destination. Those from ‘A’ may choose to express their connection or loyalty to the penultimate media product by vocalising the superiority of their route or source, therefore creating a sense of validation though a collective association, and creating an alienation to those who have not journey on the same path, or who arrive the at the content later (also expressed by users commenting “FIRST” on whatever popular content that may emerge, as a stamp of pride, ownership, a marking of territory; i.e.; ‘I was here first, therefore my associate, and that of my associates, is more valid than those that follow’).

One group may say ‘we took a particular route that you did not, our route was superior because we travelled from a local associate with a higher condition of social privilege or standing; and reach here prior to you, therefore, our appraisal of the current location/content is more valid’ (or ‘we took the M1 and made the journey in under an hour, whereas you do the side-roads, which took longer, so you are foolish, and my opinion is more valid). Declaring what brought the user to any particular media content, or that they reach it first, could be consider a search for valediction; that somehow the path that one has walked is higher than another, and others should thereby appraise this, validating the individual and feeding their ego.

Then again, this may be considered a fairly cynical perspective, and the declaration could simply be a attempt to find camaraderie and community in accessing content in a platform that may otherwise be so broad that finding likeminded individuals may otherwise be challenging (without resorting to niche dialogues, or other commercialised social media topologies). Much as a famous landmark may have a world map for tourists to plant their pins in to indicate from where they have travelled.

Indeed, numerous websites now do make uses of geotagged user mapping, often without the consent of the users, gather information by sending a small file, or cookie, to gather this data (usually in the abstract from of an IP address or server information, not giving an exact location, but a fair proximity; those a more devices are now quipped with GPS technology, a more exact location can be derived form this meta data).
Declaring what ‘brought me here’ is like the tourist showing their photographs of landmarks to the locals and fellow tourists alike; they say where they came from where they are going, and from this they may seek to express something about their ambitions, and therefore their identity, to engage socially in the understood discussion of shared interests as the basis for establishing a discourse: a friendship, or at the very least, a sense of familiarity with the otherwise near-anonymised masses of the online communities.

What brought users to their destination was the desire to belong, to have their identity associated with a particulate local, or rather, an ideological presumption surrounding that subject; a self-branding, producing a sense of self (security) through “conspicuous consumption” [Petridis, 2014]: epitomised by the ‘Vlogging’ (video blogging: – weblogger; logger; scribe of the deforested daily discourse) ‘Haul Girls’ of YouTube, whom actively demonstrate their identification with products, and thus their outward identity provide by the consumption of those products – this in itself is not especially culturally significant, ‘you are what you eat’.

Moreover, it could be argued that’ you are what you choose to show you have eaten’ (though how much of this or any choice is a demonstration of free will is debatable, given the social pressure towards conformity and the “spiral of silence” [Hampton, 2013] that ensures opinions conform to the status quo for the fear of being ostracised) the glutton may not be identifiable as being one whom over consumes by mere observation. Especially for those with pseudonymous media-eating disorders, the cultural consumption equivalents to bohemia, anorexia, and obesity; those who ‘binge’ in this consumption, before regurgitating the content before it can be digested, those who ascertain control those abstaining from all but the most meagre, unavoidable media morsel, and those who consume all their are face with, as a loss of self control and self-aware self-loathing.

As well as those with more complex cyber-psychological digital analogs, and extensions of disorders in ‘meatspace’ into the malleability of the mediated reality. Such as: the post-traumatic, post-modern, post-media, post-human, post-sane and posthumous. What happens to the digitally decapitated mind when severed from the lived brain? The central nervous system splayed over the streets of cyberspace, all tangled knots of neurological nexuses embedded in code, the cyborg’s death and an android’s afterlife.

To evidence the being in the world be vocalising what one contacts and consumes in the world; whether tourists attraction, YouTube video, a particular book, political or educational association, or any other communal subject. Such declarations could be seen to similar to how “through the camera people become customers or tourist of reality” [Sontag, 1977: 110].

The individual forges the mask of the self from the hards of the fractured mirror that reflects the world they choose to face, the vital component to this is to maintain substance within this inescapable façade forging, to not just be an amalgam of cultural content, “like a painting of a sorrow, a face without a heart” [Shakespeare, 1602: 1161] but respond to the substance of the world, not simply declaring an awareness of it, but provide an active response to the consumption thereof, and the implications to the self and society that is create as a product therein.

Much “as we make images and consume them, we need still more images; and still more” [Sontag, 1977: 179], users face with post-Industrial Consumer-Capitalism are subject to and further the ever revolving revolution of consumption and production feedback; the ceaseless cycle of the illusion of progress of (the self within) society.