Enjoy the next Youtube film, before I spoil your appetite:
Enjoyed it? I did, it is funny and well made. The thing with ‘avoid Romans’ and Facebook’s Farmville made me smile anyway. But, to spoil your appetite now, there is something political hidden as well.
Note that apparently Nazareth and Bethlehem are part of ‘Israel’ and that in the search list of the search engine Israel appears and not Palestine. I’m sure some people would say they are part of ‘Palestine’ (in particular Bethlehem because that is part of the Westbank (1967) but also of course the area of Nazareth is contested (1948)) and I think the Bible talks about Palestine as well.(EDIT: See comments below. Indeed the Bible does not mention Palestine, stupid mistake.)
In The Body and the Screen. Theories of Internet Spectatorship, Michele White shows how the technological, visual aspects and contents of websites instruct people how to follow particular rules, how to define themselves and how people can engage these sites. By focusing on the idea of spectatorship she examines how users are rendered and regulated by technologies.The rules and standards of Internet discipline the users. Based upon my own research on Internet practices of Moroccan-Dutch youth, in particular forums avatars of jihadi warriors are forbidden while in others they seem to be the rule. In other forums the possibility of people exchanging private messages is severely restricted (certainly in case of exchanges between men and women). In some of the registration forms on Islam sites people have to fill in their religion and in many cases atheist/secular worldviews but also Hindu and Buddhist are not possible choices. In case of gender it is usually male or female (instead of the other way around which would make more sense alphabetically wise) and certainly not a transgender identity or something like that. Often people can use several avatars but these avatars themselves often reproduce stereotypical images of Muslims, Muslim women, skin colour, bodily aspects of men and women.
White’s book is somewhat disappointing when it comes to the analysis of race and ethnicity but in the introduction she does engage with the ways computer technologies address users as white heterosexual men. In the Youtube film mentioned above the user who made the funny presentation is forced to comply with the Western hegemonic view on the case of Israel/Palestine. It is Israel that is used as the standard and the norm removing all disputes and struggles of Palestinians, effectively rendering them invisible. As such Facebook produces a form of identification with Israel and a disidentification with the cause of the Palestinians. Instead of seeing technology and social media as a-political and neutral whe should ask what kind of identities and hegemonies are produced and reproduced in the way particular sites work? Social media such as Facebook are mediators for users to connect to other people, they set the terms of the interaction and to a certain extent shape the exchange and connections between users. By foregrounding particular identities, hegemonies and politics while marginalizing others, the Internet reproduces geo-political but also racial, gender and sexual privileges while at the very same time for example Facebook’s rhetoric suggests that we can connect worldwide without any social boundaries giving it an empowering and liberating potential. The Internet, as White rightly argues, is an ideologically laden network and the digital story of the nativity is a nice example of that.