Roberto Simanowski’s work reflects on how the internet transforms understandings of ourselves, others, and the world—or our “identity.” Three concepts inform his analysis: instant selves, the idea that algorithms automatically create narratives for the self; episodic selves, living as tourists from one experience to the next; and Facebook eye, seeing the world in terms of garnering “likes.” These notions point to a deeper change in identity construction that is undermining the age of authenticity. In an age of profile-based identity or “profilicity,” society operates with second-order observation, generating a need to present oneself with an appeal to general peer groups, which vary by forum. Critiques of the online world that Simanowski and others articulate tend to neglect the larger social environment and focus too narrowly on the internet while applying a somewhat anachronistic authenticity-based theoretical framework.

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